Shopping & Autism

I've found shopping with an autistic child challenging to say the least. Many people who are autistic find shopping to be a struggle. When you think about it somone who is autistic tends to really struggle with sensory processing. Shops tend to be an overwhelming environment for thouse with autisim because of being overloaded with noise, sounds and smells which can be too much for them. Shops are unpredictable places especially with aisles changing often because autistic people don't like change they find it hard. 

Blake's way to cope is to cry and scream when it gets too much. This often means that we can mistake his behaviour as being naughty rather than it being  his way of coping.  It's tricky as most children play up when out shopping which can usually be because of not getting there own way. 

There are a few things we have started to do recently that we've found helpful with Blake. 

- Prewarning 
We've found that he seems to react better when he knows in advance that we are going to the shop's.  

- Getting down to his level
We give him cuddles and reassurance if he gets upset and getting down to his level and speaking in a lower tone seems to be working

- Getting him involved
We've also found getting him to help when in shops has made meltdowns less often. 

Of course this may not help for others but it seems to be what is currently working for us.

Some shops are now also starting to find ways at supporting autistic customers. Many supermarkets are now implementing quiet hours which is obviously  good thing. Autism is one of many hidden disabilities with more than 1% of people in UK being on the spectrum. 

We've actually yet to visit a supermarket during quiet hour however know that our local Morrison's does quiet hour every Saturday morning 9-10 am which is very handy. During quiet hour stores will do the following steps:

  • Dim the lights
  • Turn music and radio off
  • Avoid making tannoy announcements
  • Reduce movement of trolleys and baskets
  • Turn checkout beeps and other electrical noises down
  • Place a poster outside to tell customers it’s Quieter Hour

There are other ways we are planning to support Blake when it comes to shopping trips:

- Books on shopping 
- Visual images
- Sticking to a routine for e.g. going the same route 

I'm hoping that over time we will find shopping a more easier experience and find more things that work for us. 

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