The grocery store is one of those places that parents wish they can go to alone as it may be their only time alone for the week! This does not always happen though and can be quite stressful with a child with autism. On the other hand, it can also be a wonderful learning experience if parents take the time and follow a few simple strategies.
First, make a list of items, either drawn or with pictures printed out on the computer or cut out from advertisements that your child can keep track of during the shopping trip. These can be items that they prefer and would be interested in tracking and finding. Have him cross out the items or put the picture in an envelope when you both find the item, signifying one step closer to being done with the shopping experience. Give your child a shortened list without all the items you need to get on it. Save the last item that you get for his list so that he can directly see when the last item is crossed out, you are done!
Second, have a back-up enjoyable activity that your child can engage in while you are completing the remaining part of the shopping trip that is not on his list. A small coloring book, games on your phone, or even a squishy toy may work to keep him busy.
Third, use the experience to teach language skills. Grab a green and a red apple and ask your child to identify which one is red. Grab a big and a small can of tomatoes and ask your child to identify which one is bigger. Ask your child to label items that you grab from the shelves, especially preferable items. However advance your child’s speech is, tailor what you ask of them to their level.
Last, if your child has difficulties walking through an entire shopping experience, allow your child to catch a ride only if he has walked and helped for a certain amount of time, or when all of his grocery list is completed. If you base it on time, be sure to have a visual chart for him to know how much time he has left of walking (e.g., have 5 boxes, each representing 2 minutes).
Hopefully these strategies will begin to help relieve some of any potential stress during your grocery shopping experiences!
What kind of problems have you had at the grocery store?Tags: ABA Programs, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Behavioral Challenges For Children With Autism, Children with Autism, Community Integration For Autism, Community Treatment, Treating Children With Autism, Treatment for ASD, Treatment For ASD In Community Settings, Treatment For Children With Autism