Mum of Kildare autistic son pays tribute to security guard

Heartwarming tale

Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh


Mum of Kildare autistic son pays tribute to security guard

Barbara Gillen with her son Ronan and security guard, Ken Brosnan. Picture: Tony Keane

A Robertstown woman has praised the quick thinking and sympathetic approach of a security man in a Naas shop after her son became upset.

Barbara Gillen admits that she still gets “choked up” when talking about the incident which occured last February in Boots.

She and her son Ronan, 15, were in the shop during the mid term break last February when he became agitated. Ronan has moderate autism with an intellectual disability.

Ms Gillen was speaking to one of the shop assistants and Ronan had wandered away. As she was paying for an item he grabbed her hair and started kicking over display stands in the shop.

“I don’t know what triggered it,” Barbara admits.

She said that at that moment she was concerned that she might get hurt. “I tried to get him to sit on the ground, doing the things I do to calm him down and getting him to breathe.”

Although he sat down, he kicked her in the ribs, and she was winded.

At that point the security guard came over and Barbara signalled for him with her hand to stay back.

“The staff were concerned for me. The security guard (Ken Brosnan) knew I was in big trouble.

“He came over and just got down on his hunkers and just started chatting to Ronan. “Ronan, it’s ok buddy,’ he said.

“He actually copied everything I had said to make him calm down. He just had cop on to know what to do.

“He sat about a foot away for a few minutes. I was terrified Ronan might be threatened by Ken, but he never put his hand on him.

“You know, Ronan was wrecking the shop and as a Ken had a job to do, but he immediately saw that the child was in distress and realised he needed to help him.

After a while, all three walked calmly Barbara's car.

“He made sure he got Ronan into the car, buckled into it.

“Then he took out a tissue and asked me if I was OK.”

She wasn't aware, but there was blood on her face.

“I was so concerned for my son. He’s the vulnerable one.

“Then I got into my car and just bawled,” Karen admitted.

“If there is an award, Ken should get it. He didn’t care about the destruction of the shop. He just came in at the right time in the right way.”

Barbara spoke a few weeks ago to RTE’s Joe Duffy on Liveline and recounted the story. Ken didn't hear her on the radio but was suddenly inundated with people coming into the shop and paying tribute to him.

He admitted to the Leinster Leader that he was gobsmacked by the reaction.

He’s in an amazing guy,” she said, speaking of her son. “He’s affectionate and funny. “He’s in Stepping Stones school in Kilcloon. They’re just amazing with him. I can’t speak highly enough of them.

“Ronan is challenged every day. The simplest things can upset him — and they really love him, in the school.”

“We’ve had some really serious periods with Ronan. He runs a lot, and we’ve even had a fire in the house which he lit.

“I have a book I could write. If you could.

He has an older sister and a younger brother, aged 17 and 12. They get pissed off at him at times but they’re very good with him.

“The part that hurts is the financial impacts. He breaks playstation remotes. We’ve gone through tvs and five beds. Because he doesn’t had emotional regulation he’ll pound around the place.