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Shopping with your ASD child

Posted by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 1:12 AM
  • 21 Replies


My son Owen just turned 6 years of age...Recently I have found that I'm struggling to be able to take him with me to the grocery store, or any kind of shopping....I used to be able to take him with me, and now that I can't it makes me feel sort of even more islated.  I'm a SAHM, and my husband works about 65-70 hours a week and going shopping has been such a nice outing for my son and I up until recently.....I try to tell my son to sit down in the shopping carts but he just doesn't listen, not that he doesn't understand what no means, but because he wants to do what he wants to do and it always is usually because a light is blinking on the soda machine, or there are big huge screen tv's to look at etc.  Do any of you mom's take your children out shopping?  How do you handle them in the stores?  I'm still able to take my son to the park thank goodness....but, I'm really going to miss all the other outings : (

by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 1:12 AM
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by Bronze Member on Aug. 21, 2012 at 1:26 AM
My boyfriend goes to the store. So I stay home with our son that has autism and his little brother. It is too hard to deal with a baby and 2wheelchairs. We tried to take my oldest when I was pregnant. He liked riding in the cart untill we put the food in the cart. Then he wanted to open to eat. And he wanted the baby stuff. So after all that fun I stay home. Or we go when he is in preschool to get b-day or Christmas gifts.
by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 1:38 AM

Sometimes I take my little guy but he gets upset unless he gets what he wants and has had full blown fits. It is not as bad as it use to be but when it happens I just love the stares I get when acts like he is being tortured or if he is not in a cart decides to throw himself on the floor (please note sarcasim here) *sigh* So, there have been a few times when we have just had to leave the store - nothing bought. I prefer to shop without him most of the time but I also want him to be able to go into a store so I talk with him before about what to expect and what is expected of him and most of the time it works okay but I still occassionally find myself buying stuff I do not want/need on occasion just to prevent him from pitching a fit...(ie I went to Sams and he wanted these bowls so we ended up with some soup bowls because had I not gotten them we would have had to leave..I should be better with boundaries but it is hard sometimes). I also try to keep my trips with him short.

by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 1:39 AM
I used to take my sons to the aisles they enjoyed first. For one it was the lamp aisle where we'd pick up a mini fiber optic lamp. For my other son he wanted a Swiffer duster. That was enough to keep them occupied until checkout. If it didn't then we'd go to the toy aisle and exchange the item they already had for something else, like a Hot Wheels car or a Thomas the Train. Something small but would help reinforce their good behavior at the store. I'd also get them a pack of gum at checkout.

Eventually as they grew older they replaced toy items with snacks and foods of their choice to get them involved in the shopping process. Now they are 10 and 12 and they help create the grocery list, pick out the items, bag them at checkout, haul them inside and help unpack and put away. So if you can figure out a way to make the trip especially rewarding for him he might be more willing to endure the shopping trip.
by Bronze Member on Aug. 21, 2012 at 1:46 AM
I know what you mean. But I really indulge the "lights, tv screen" thing.

"what color is the light? Let's copy the beat it's flashing to"

" what's that on tv?" etc. if you fight it it's going to be stressful for you both. The only thing I don't indulge is his door thing. But that's because his OT says to. Something about a sensory diet.
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by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 2:46 AM
My child has had trouble in stores over the years as well. Now at age eleven he is terrific in the grocery store and many other places, so remember things may get better as time goes on. Here are some things that helped us. I had my child keep a hand on the shopping cart as he walked so he wouldn't wander off. This took lots of practice and reinforcement. If he let go, I made him come all the way back to the cart and hang on. I told my child if he wanted to see something, I would take him to see it as long as he asked. This made shopping trips very long especially since I have two kids, but it kept them from wandering. When my child learned he would get to see what he wanted to see, he was more willing to stay close without having to ride in the cart. He did ride in the cart when there was room. We would count down seconds to look at something and then we would move on. I said, ok - ten more seconds to look at this item and then time to move on. You can also say, three items in the cart, then it's your turn to see something you want to see. As time went on, he was eventually able to stay by the cart without holding on. I had a rule he had to stay behind the end of the cart so he had a visual of how far he could go. My son was allowed to see whatever he wanted from the shelves as long as he asked first. This way I was able to see where he got the item from and have him put it back in the right place. While shopping we played games like "I Spy", spot the food product. My son also got to choose some foods he wanted to add to the grocery list before we left for the store so he felt included in the process and could help spot items on our list. Sometimes I would let my son choose where in the store he wanted to start, for example bread area or fruit area. At one point I carried conversation cards in the store so I had ideas of things to keep my son's mind on while we shopped. The cards would have questions on them like what are your three favorite animals-things he could think about. These were great for when we had to wait in line. If my son had a behavior problem, I would take him to the car for a time out or, if he was calm enough, we would sit on a bench outside of the store. My son got to choose where the time out would be and I would sit with him. The first few times this happened were really hard. He totally melted down about it, but he eventually got used to the fact that all shopping would stop if there was misbehavior. (I reminded my son of the rules and consequences before every shopping trip.) When my son was calm, we would go back inside, find our cart and continue with our shopping. My child had difficulties like a fear of cashiers (he hid below the counter for fear they would talk to him). We rehearsed things he could say to a cashier, to help him be more comfortable. I got to continue my shopping with my son and have some fun along the way despite the difficulties and my child learned how to shop responsibly. It took lots of practice, but was worth it for him and I both.
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by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 2:52 AM

The hardest thing for us is DD cant sit in the cart anymore. and she is 8, its been a while since she could. but i guess it got so ingrained into her routine as a toddler and a little kid that i just cant get her to understand why she cant anymore. 

by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 7:56 AM

My son is 6 too and for the most part he does well on outings.  However, there are times when it is difficult.  With him, he is always grabbing items from the shelf and trying to open them. 

With my son, I always make sure he has eaten something before we go out so he isn't hungry or trying to open snacks at the store.  I also let him take his favorite toy to entertain him (which doesn't always work).  And, if all possible, I try to stay away from things that will cause him to stand up/have a meltdown/or become upset.  For example, if we go to Wal-Mart, I know to stay away from the toy section because he will want to play with all of the toys.  He doesn't want them, he just wants to touch them all. 

I like to take him on short shopping trips because it gives him the chance to get out of the house.  On longer trips, I try to go when DH is home so he can watch him while I go. 

by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 8:20 AM

 When I take my son shopping, I give him the grocery list and let him get the items for me. It is the only way to keep him from touching everything. When he was younger, I always brought a snack for him to eat while we were shopping. Sometimes he brings his ds in or plays on my phone too.

by on Aug. 21, 2012 at 8:22 AM

The only issue I have with my son at stores is his tendency to wander off.

by Bronze Member on Aug. 21, 2012 at 10:18 AM

I remember how easily I am distracted by a blinking light or the show currently on the tv, or the candy machine being restocked. When I take my son shopping, on the way to the store, I talk about how we are only going for said items (I would give him a couple he was to "look" for) and if he behaved, maybe next time we could look at getting him something. OR (And the main one I use as he gets older) if he behaved and helped, we could stop and watch the tvs or walk the toys, but he had to listen and not ask for anything. The first time he asks, I remind him of our deal, the second time I promise he wont go with me the next time I need to shop, and the third, we head to the checkout line. (This works when at walmart or target, something with kid stuff) If I take him to the grocery store, his job is to help look for what we need. If he can't, then he has to hold onto the cart and not remove his hand from it. But I found by having him activly help, he would throw less fits and actually enjoy shopping

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