Published: 06:00, 28 April 2019
| Updated: 07:59, 28 April 2019
A mother tired of the disapproving glances and barbed comments her five-year-old with autism receives has designed a clothing range to alert people to his behaviour.
At 18-months-old, Oscar Barker was diagnosed with the condition, along with epilepsy and a brain condition called global development delay.
Since then, his mother Kellie, from Herne Bay, says he has been told by strangers to “shut up” and that others have said to her they would smack him if he was their child.
“When we go out, it doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with him – he looks like a normal run-of-the-mill kid,” the 41-year-old said.
“Oscar does have unpredictable behaviour, though. He gets lots of looks and gets called naughty by adults.
“We’ve had ‘for god’s sake, shut up’ because he can really scream. We have experienced people saying to us before ‘if he were mine, he’d be getting a smack’.
“I’ve also been in meetings where Oscar isn’t referred to by his name and is only talked about when people say ‘what’s wrong with him’. It’s really offensive.”
Ms Barker says comments such as these often make Oscar feel worse.
He can become anxious in unfamiliar surroundings, or if he feels claustrophobic or uncomfortable.
“It can trigger a meltdown with him,” she added.
“Sometimes Oscar’s behaviour can make you go ‘wow’; he could be on all fours in a public place taking his shoes and socks off.”
As a result, Ms Barker decided to establish Born Anxious, a range of clothing warning others about her son’s special needs.
Kellie was recently a guest on KMTV
The label sells t-shirts for children and adults emblazoned with messages like “be kind I have autism” and “unpredictable and amazing”.
“It’s about informing people in a really gentle way that he may need a wide berth when we’re out,” she explained.
“Someone could go up to him, say ‘hello, mate’ and ruffle his hair without realising that could ruin our whole day.”
“I’ve had a really good reaction to the products. A lot of people have said that people have been kinder to them because of this.”
To see the clothes range click here.
More by this authorJack Dyson