A Simple Trip to the Grocery Store or Is It?
Are you the parent of a child with special needs? Perhaps you have a child with autism who is low verbal or even non-verbal. Not surprisingly, this makes a simple trip to the grocery store not-so-simple. As parents of children with unique needs, we know all too well how quickly a trip to the store for a few items can turn stressful. Discover a few helpful tips for parents or caregivers of a child with unique needs that can help make an outing to the grocery store a little more enjoyable for everyone.
The Car Ride
Scenery rushing past, breezes whooshing in through the top of the window and vehicles whizzing by are what make a car ride fun. Your low verbal or non-verbal child may rock back and forth or make lots of noises to express excitement during the ride. This is wonderful, so long as your child stays in his or her seat throughout the trip.
One tip to keep your child seated is to get a device such as our Buckle Boss Belt Guard. This simple item keeps a child from unbuckling their seatbelt without your assistance. You can quickly release the Buckle Boss Belt Guard by inserting a key, popsicle stick or other slender object into one of its slots. Carry one around in your pocket or purse to use in different cars or purchase a few so each vehicle in the family has one ready to go.
Our belt guard can come in handy if you’re a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s as well. A person with Alzheimer’s may become confused and try to release the seatbelt before the car is fully stopped. Our device can keep your loved one safe until it’s time to exit the car.
Another tip for enjoying peace of mind during a car trip to the grocery store is to have a belt cover for your child’s safety belt. This cover slips over the belt’s main strap. If you and your child were ever in an accident, the information printed on the cover lets emergency personnel know your child may not be able to communicate with them. This would give EMS the facts they need to tend to your child. Once again, a simple precaution can make all the difference when traveling with a child who has unique needs.
Maybe your child is fortunate enough to have a therapy dog. In fact, taking the dog along everywhere has become a part of your family’s lifestyle. If so, it’s important for the dog to be safe and settled during a car ride as well. Our Doggie Seat Belt is adjustable helping a dog to stay comfortable and secure while going along for the ride to the grocery store or on other errands.
The Parking Lot
As a caregiver of a child with special requirements, moving from the car to the grocery store presents another concern. Perhaps your child is prone to escaping or dashing off to investigate a parked car or some other interesting feature in the area. This is certainly risky behavior that can cause a parent’s heart to skip a beat.
One tip to consider is to get a shopping cart from the cart corral before letting your child out of the car. That way, your child can hold onto the cart handle with you as you make your way across the parking lot to the store. Sometimes just holding onto the cart’s handle can help you feel more confident about your child’s safety in a busy parking lot.
Inside the Grocery Store
As parents and caregivers, we know it takes an extra level of vigilance to travel the aisles of a grocery store with a child who is on the spectrum. After all, there are a lot of exciting sights and sounds in a grocery store! We’re always aware of how our children are reacting to the lighting, sounds and more within the store. Of course, there’s always the chance that your child could wander off.
A tip to consider here is to get your child one of the Re-Useable ID wristbands in our inventory. That way, if your child does wander to another area of the store while you have your back turned, another shopper or employee can use the information on your child’s bracelet to provide immediate assistance.
Another helpful tip is to plan your trip to the grocery store during a time when the store is not so busy. Mid-morning or after dinner hours are both times when many grocery stores have fewer shoppers. This means less noise and a shorter wait time at checkout. A quieter store with fewer people around can put your child more at ease and help you to relax a bit as you move through the aisles.
If it’s necessary to take your child to the grocery store during a busy time, you may want to consider noise canceling headphones for your child. Children with autism can be especially sensitive to noises all around them. The noises swirl together creating a lot of stress and confusion. Wearing noise canceling headphones can reduce a lot of the input setting your child more at ease while in the store.
Loading the Groceries into the Car
Instead of asking your child to wait near the
shopping cart while you load groceries into your car’s trunk, think about allowing them to sit in the car. You can lock it to make sure your child stays put for a few minutes while you unload the bags.
If you want to avoid having your child sit in the car alone while you unload the groceries, ask a manager of the store if you can have a bagger or other employee help you out. The employee can either assist you in putting the groceries in the car or you can ask the person to takeover the task while you sit in the car with your child.
Having this part of the journey planned out ahead of time can save you some stress in the parking lot after the shopping is done.
Why Take Your Special Needs Child to the Grocery Store?
As parents and caregivers, we’ve all been tempted to leave our child at home with family and make it a solo trip to the grocery store. In many cases it would be more convenient and definitely a lot easier. But there are reasons to include your child in the weekly grocery shopping.
Each time you take a child with autism or unique needs on an outing, it helps them learn to cope better with the environment. It’s a good idea to take a child on short trips to the grocery store to get two or three items. So, your child has a chance to experience the sights and sounds of the store in small doses. As a child becomes more accustomed to the environment, parents can extend the amount of time spent there.
Ideally, taking your child to the grocery store regularly means one day it will be a routine, easy part of your family’s lifestyle. You and your child may even start to look forward to it. Imagine that!