Trolleys for autistic children are to be rolled out across the UK

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PARENTS of children with disabilities will find the supermarket run has been made easier thanks to a Crawley family.

Maria Box, whose son Ryan is autistic, campaigned for safer shopping trolleys to be introduced for children with disabilities.

As a result of her appeal Sainsbury’s has now announced it is going to roll out a brand new trolley for children with special needs by the end of this year, to make the shopping trip easier.

Mrs Box, from Bristol Close in Pound Hill, has been using a prototype at the West Green store since April and has helped with the final design.

She said: “I now know Ryan is safe and secure, and importantly he is happy.

“He is supported in the seat so if he gets anxious he can’t kick out at anyone or hurt himself by hitting his head.

“I still have to be careful and keep an eye out for him grabbing items from the shelves, but there is no longer the danger of a row of baked beans getting trashed.

“Using this trolley has also helped to raise awareness of autism. It is a hidden disability. People look at Ryan and don’t think there is anything different about him.

“Now they take a look at the trolley and get an understanding that there could be a reason why Ryan is distressed.

“It stops autistic children from wrongly being labelled as simply a ‘naughty child’.”

As many as 15 families in Crawley make use of the trolley in the Crawley Avenue store, with another on trial in a Manchester store.

Mrs Box has given some pointers on how the prototype can be improved even further, including adding a hook so bags can be hung off the trolley to create more shopping space in the basket.

The finished trolley is expected to be introduced within two months, and then brought into Sainsbury’s branches across the country by the end of the year.

Mrs Box writes a monthly column in the Crawley News about life with Ryan, who is five and a pupil at Manor Green Primary School, and one of her articles earlier this year sparked the quest for a solution.

In it she called for trolleys to be adapted to include harnesses so children with autism could be securely strapped in, preventing them from falling out or knocking items off shelves.

Following her article, which specifically mentioned Sainsbury’s in West Green, a member of the supermarket’s head office contacted the Crawley News with a possible solution.

The supermarket offered to come up with a prototype trolley with a five-point harness.

The trolley also has a larger seat, so older autistic children can use it.

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Original article posted on the Crawley News website.

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