Dreaded Shopping Trips with Your ASD Child

"Shopping is an absolute nightmare with my son (high functioning autistic). Any tips would be greatly appreciated!"

Shopping with any child can be extremely hectic and more than just a little bit difficult at times. Shopping places are filled with attention-grabbing advertisements that stimulate kids - even without the challenge of ASD level 1, or High-Functioning Autism. The last thing you want is to need to overpower a screaming youngster while trying to shop.

Here are some simple tips: 
  1. If possible, shop during the off hours (calmer hours), and make your behavioral expectations clear to your child before entering the store.
  2. Know exactly what you want by keeping a list -- and know where you are going while inside the store.
  3. If your son has a favorite distracting toy or gadget, try to bring it along with you. If not, you may find an inexpensive item that he is attracted to that you could buy to distract him during the shopping experience.
  4. Don’t be afraid to have a time-out, either in the bathroom of the store or just outside the store while the store watches your items. Remember, parents of kids on the autism spectrum deal with this issue all the time, so a little noise and difficulty are to be expected.
  5. If the son is young enough, use the child seats in some stores, including those for older children as well. Buckle your son in carefully and encourage him to remain buckled throughout the ride through the store. Some children are soothed by the action of the cart, while others are over stimulated by it. Choose your “driving patterns” depending on how your son responds to it. Don’t increase the stimulation by removing the safety restraint on your son or having him walk freely throughout the store with you. It’s too easy for him to get lost or to destroy an ad display.
  6. If there are no trolleys and your son is too big to carry, then a firm hold on the hand may have to be your best option.

Shopping doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you plan accordingly.

==> Has your child on the autism spectrum been experiencing a lot of sadness lately? If so, here are a bunch of suggestions to assist in the matter...

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

Here's what other parents have had to say:

•    Anonymous said... Don't always go with an agenda - make shopping fun sometimes.

•    Anonymous said... I was just about to say use an mp3 player! It really helps my son in supermarkets and anywhere he will have to do boring stuff where there is lots of noise. Even chapel at my daughters school. He sat there with the ear buds in for the whole service! Wish I could have too

•    Anonymous said... My daughter can find crowds and noise overstimulating when we're shopping. We find that distraction and redirection work best to get her through the shopping trip. I carry a "calming kit" in my purse with fidget toys, earplugs, and earbuds for the iPod or iPhone. If she feels too overwhelmed we can pull these things out for her and take the focus off of what is causing her discomfort. Another thing we do that she seems to like is have her help with the shopping. I ask her to help me pick out fruits and vegetables or get things for me off of shelves while I'm standing with her. This seems to take her focus off of what's going on around her and puts it on the items we're looking for. It's kind of like a game and she has fun doing it.

•    Anonymous said... My do. Has had meltdowns at stores to the point where at least once person threatened to call CPS on me because they thought I was abusing him without knowing he was aspergers.

•    Anonymous said... My hubby is the same - hates shopping and if he has to go into town, or to the gym, will come home and collapse on the bed fairly soon afterwards (regeneration time) - the kids just retreat into their computers/tablets or the TV to regenerate

•    Anonymous said... my son hates shopping, slightly better now he is a bit older so I guess there is hope that as he matures, he may be able to deal with it. But, I generally just don't take him shopping unless absolutely necessary. If I have to take him then I tell him in advance, tell him what we need to get and where we need to go and then try to stick to what you have said. If I deviate or add anything to the list - he will loose the plot.

•    Anonymous said... My son hates shopping. I try to do any shopping when he is either at school,camp or when my husband is home to watch him.

•    Anonymous said... Oh and never ever deviate from your list.

•    Anonymous said... Same here with our daughter! We got her comfortable headphones and an iPod and viola!!!! She loves it! Plus I also ask her to help find the groceries on the list and then the lowest price. She loves to help and if she gets a little overwhelmed she asks for a break to put her headphones on has been working for 2 years now. Every one is different though. She is 8 1/2 and has become very responsible with it Good luck to ya!

•    Anonymous said... They seem to do better if they have a list and are "in charge" of it. Make sure they know what they are after and where to find it. Don't linger if you don't have to, especially in a big store with lots of stimuli. My daughter absolutely hates lingering in a store when she doesn't know what she is after and can get it and go.

•    Anonymous said... try it with an aspergers husband,hee hee.

•    Anonymous said... You need to find out the problem, is it noise, crowd, visually too stimulating or maybe even smells. Once you know the trigger it is easier to find the solution, like headphones. My son has this great way of making the people disappear, however this causes problems as he runs into people A LOT. We also have issues with the car park, just getting him inside a shopping centre safely is an issue.

•    Anonymous said...I do the bulk of my grocery shopping online. I only take my boy on short trips to the shops - it's more manageable and the behaviour I'm looking for is more achievable for him.

•    Anonymous said... Use a timer and set it, your child can look at that timer and know in 20 min or how ever long you set it you will be done and when your done give him a praise or prize for doing so well in the store we use this at work and it is awesome

•    Anonymous said... I had problems with my daughter until I started letting her bring her DS games or DVD player she would curl up in a buggy and focus on whcih every she chose.

•    Anonymous said... as mine got older totaly involved them in helping me push trolley/get food off shelves,my problem is with my a/s hubby ,he is fixated on cakes and biscuits,cant get him past that isle wirth out filling whole trolley with goodies.

•    Anonymous said... My child is obsessed with electronics and touching buttons and screens, he cannot walk past an ATM machine, eftpos terminal or any type of electronic device without stopping to touch, climb on counters etc. He is 6 now and I have rewards in place and have found getting him involved with loading the trolley helps. Having a checklist he is in control of and ticks off is marvellous. He liked to "do" and giving him his own jobs takes the focus off his obsessive compulsions. I used to leave him at home when he was younger as he would climb on all the counters to touch the gadgets, I would even find him running off to the toiletsa to continually play with the hand dryer, but as he has gotten older I am finding it easier to reason with him.

•    Anonymous said... I understand & half to say even staying seatbelted in the car waz a nightmare anything that is familar not annoying for u is great to play in car or grocery store start small work with that then increase times to longer my son loves music & i make him bring a toy hope it helps

•    Anonymous said... I am new here but felt I must post on this subject, Taking my 9 year old to any place that he doesnt want to go is a nitemare. He doesnt want to leave the house unless its to get video games. He will take off in the stores so I have to hold his hands, we went to my nephews graduation and he was so upset because of the loud screamming and clapping we had to leave. It is very difficult so now I only take him on short trips to slowly try to over come this

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