Five-year-old Lincoln King – who has a rare condition that means he can’t communicate verbally – loves shopping at his local Asda store thanks to their Happy Little Helper lists that use the Makaton symbols he knows from school.
His mum Keylie Thomas said the lists have made a big difference to the regular family shopping trips Lincoln has with his dad Chris and sister Scarlett-Louise, who's 10.
The lists show pictures of a range of shopping items such as milk, bread and bananas that a child can tick off once they’ve been added to the trolley.
"These lists are just brilliant. He absolutely loves using them – it gives him a bit of independence. He now has an input in what we buy," said Thomas.
"He chooses what he wants from list, gets the item, puts it in the trolley and then he ticks it off the list. Sometimes going shopping can be difficult, but this helps so much. It makes it so much easier and Lincoln really enjoys using them."
Lincoln, who goes to Cawston Grange Primary School, has polymicrogyria and uses Makaton sign language to communicate.
"Although he cannot verbally speak he still loves to interact with people. He's quite good with faces and recognises the colleagues in the store. Everyone at Asda is great with him."
The store's community champion Alison Scrace also arranged a special behind-the-scenes tour of the store which included visiting the home delivery warehouse, seeing bread being made, having a go at making a pizza and serving on the checkouts!
"It was amazing for him. He was in his element on the checkouts, but he loved making the pizza best of all. He thought it was brilliant. He was very proud of his pizza – it had a tomato base with meatballs, ham and pineapple. He ate it when he got home."
"While he was making it he saw a friend from school and he was waving at him. Lincoln felt like a celebrity!"
Scrace said everyone in store is delighted to see the difference the Happy Little Helper cards make to Lincoln's visits. "Seeing Lincoln achieve goals and taking small steps to become a confident young boy is the most amazing feeling in the world!
"He is such a happy little boy who is always smiling. Everyone here loves him. Believe in yourself Lincoln because we believe in you!"
Alison helped Lincoln when he used the Happy Little Helper list for the first time.
"He found all his items off his shopping list and I couldn’t of been more proud of his determination. He was so happy to be presented with his first place medal before leaving the store."
Lincoln was also given an Asda T-shirt and a name badge which he absolutely loves.
"Every time he now sees one of our home delivery vans when he is out and about he shouts that they are his friends."
Store manager Dave McGee said it's a pleasure helping Lincoln and his family. "It’s great for us as a store team to be able to encourage young children to experience a more comfortable shopping at Asda. Colleagues who were fortunate to meet him are also sharing their personal stories with all other colleagues about their special moments with Lincoln," said McGee.
The Happy Little Helper lists were created Jenny Barnett from our Middlesbrough store, whose son Charlie has non-verbal autism, to keep children interested and engaged during their shopping trips.
All Asda superstores and supercentres now have ten Happy Little Helpers shopping lists at their customer service desk for customers to collect at the start of their shop.