‘I pulled the house apart looking for it, from 5.30am until lunchtime - and during that time my son was just crying hysterically and inconsolable.
‘Only parents of children with autism will understand how hard it is to explain that things are lost and that they’re not easily replaced, and he just became more and more upset as the day went on. There was just no talking him down, he was having terrible meltdowns - just so upset.’
Eventually, Ella says she returned to her local Woolies at Robina on the Gold Coast to do her weekly shop in the hope that she’d land another Dash Disney tile.
‘I took my mum and I did my shopping, she did her shopping as well,’ says the mum. ‘We sat outside the store and nervously opened all the tiles, but of course Dash wasn’t there.
‘So we went to the service counter and asked for the list of products which gave you double tiles, thinking we would do another shop just for a few of these items.’
However the mum says that the young male Woolies staff member became curious as to why they needed more tiles and asked what was going on.
‘We explained that my son had autism had been in tears and incredibly anxious since 5.30am that morning because he’d lost his tile, and we were trying to find another Dash,’ the mum tells New Idea Food. ‘And then he gave us a big smile and told us to wait there. He went over and spoke to another female cashier, they pulled out a little container with loose tiles in it and explained that they had some leftover from a swap meet a few days earlier, and he would see if there was a Dash in there.
‘He painstakingly went through each and every tile until he got to the bottom - and finally, he found a Dash. He was almost as excited as we were!’
The mum said her son was ‘over the moon’ to receive the new Dash tile - and even wrote her a special note, pictured at top of page, to say thank you.
‘It’s the first time he’s ever written anything for me,’ the mums says. ‘So for him to write “I love you” without any prompting and give it to me - I’m still crying over it.
‘But the truth is, without the lovely guy from Woolies I’d still have a very sad boy on my hand who just couldn’t understand what was happening. And I would’ve never received a letter like this from my little boy.’
Ella tells New Idea Food: ‘I’ll be shopping at Woolworths all the time from now on.’