An autistic little boy was left humiliated when a shopkeeper allegedly told him he was “mental”.

Adam Rafique was with his mother, Kishwar, and brother, Haydar, seven, picking out chocolate at the 7-11 in High Street, Wanstead, when he told he was being banned from the store.

The shop owners, Mr and Mrs Ray, deny this ever happened - saying they did not brand him “mental” and they were not told he had autism.

But the 10-year-old’s mother maintains her version of events, saying Adam was deciding between a Kit Kat or Maltesers when Mr Ray asked him to stop touching the packets.

Quickly, Mrs Rafique, 37, says she apologised and explained he has autism – but she claims he replied: “I don’t care if he’s mental. I don’t want him in my shop.”

Mr Ray is then alleged to have continued: “Your mental son is banned from my shop.”

The family then broke down in tears as another shopper, who said he works with adults with autism, tried to calm the situation.

Mrs Rafique told the Wanstead and Woodford Guardian: “He then turned to my son and told him: ‘you don’t even listen to your mum.’ I was heartbroken.

“I was feeling so flustered and upset. It came across as so ruthless. I just didn’t know what to do.

“We couldn’t cope with the trauma. The three of us started to cry. They showed no remorse.

“The man continued saying: ‘this boy kicks all my boxes when he is here.’ I explained he hadn’t broken anything and if he had I’d pay for it, but he didn’t listen.”

She took out Adam’s ‘autism alert card’ to try and explain it to the shopkeeper, but he was receptive and ordered her to leave.

But instead, she phoned the police in the hopes a mediator could help diffuse the situation.

When they eventually left the shop, Adam began having a meltdown and assumed he was to blame for what happened.

Mrs Rafique said: “He told me he was bad and that it was all his fault, he thought he had made me cry.

“It was awful, to see him blaming himself. I had to console him.”

Her husband, Arfan, went back to the 7-11 that evening to try and find some common ground, but claims he was met with anger.

Now Mrs Rafique, who works part-time for an estate agency, is now hoping to educate others about autism.

Adam was diagnosed with autism last November but began displaying symptoms when he was two, and is home-schooled.

Mrs Rafique added: “I am still in shock and keep analysing the situation, but I want to turn this negative into a positive and raise awareness about autism.”

Mrs Ray told the Guardian: "He is always in my shop, touching things and kicking boxes. He has never broken anything and his mum always offers to pay if he does, though.

"He was touching the penny sweets as well as chocolate, smelling them and it's unhygenic. She didn't tell me he had autism. We didn't call him mental."