The British mother of an autistic child who says she was unfairly criticized by passersby and store staff on Feb. 29 is using social media to fight back.
Sammi Ovington, 23, was shopping in a Paperchase stationery store with her autistic 3-year-old girl, Skye, when the child grew overwhelmed, the Daily Mail reports.
“The noise of builders, cars, the beeping to cross the road and music in the shop was all too much for Skye,” Ovington explained. “So she dealt with it the only way she knows how. To cover her ears, shake and cry. She was scared. She was upset. And she was panicking. She was not being naughty.”
But after the child began expressing her frustration and fear, staff and strangers reportedly started treating the mother and daughter unfairly.
“I could tell people were staring at me but I was gobsmacked that people actually had the nerve to come up to me and tell me to control my child. It just shocked me,” Ovington wrote.
Strangers stared while staff advised the mother to try to calm the child, causing immense emotional distress for the already overwhelmed mother.
"When people stare I just want the ground to swallow me up,” Ovington explained.
Skye also suffers has pica, a rare condition that causes the child to sometimes develop an uncontrollable urge to eat inedible substances.
When Skye began chewing on something, a fellow customer called her “naughty” and the mother “irresponsible.”
Of her daughter's pica, Ovington wrote, "Skye's thing is paper. I'm sorry she ate the barcode before we paid but she isn't naughty and I am not irresponsible.”
Others simply shot the woman and her child dirty looks.
“When people were giving me dirty looks and whispering behind my back I couldn't really focus my energy on them because I was trying to calm my little girl down,” Ovington said. “But when I got home I was just so angry. I sometimes get a couple of comments but I'd just had a really bad day and wanted people to know how it made me feel.”