Recently I came across a thread in my local fb groups where some folks were talking about how busy the supermarkets were in the lead up to the end of the school holidays….and I was literally shook thinking – but click and collect doesn’t get busy like that.
And I had an epiphany thinking of how we shop, and how we source our groceries…is not how everyone shops for food.
And it made me think about the various sensory impacts that autistic folk may experience in the supermarket.
And these challenges exist way beyond the limited time frame of the 10-11am sensory shopping hours we seem to be allocated to shop with reduced light and noise by the mainstream supermarkets.
That for some people, the impact of crowds – the visual impact of the colour, the noise of people and the shopping trolleys is massive.
Going to lovely wholesale fruit markets means crowds are often present. And this doesnt support our autistic needs.
Its the smells, the noise, the lighting, the whole lot of it culminating at once on top of your day.
Visual displays of produce and stock can see a huge rainbow of BRIGHT colour, sale tags and lower price swing tags moving can be hard for someone who processes visual information and needs order and LESS visual clutter.
It also becomes challenging when things aren’t….where they should be.
When a special or a planogram isn’t followed, and what is typically in aisle xx at the supermarket, is NOT in aisle xx.
When you have braced yourself for the supermarket experience as you need to replenish a special item and that item is NO WHERE TO BE FOUND.
The checkouts….while some parents might worry about the various items their children might add to the groceries being bought at last minute….
it’s about the noise, the random expectation to make conversation & SMALL TALK ,while the lights are BRIGHT, and the checkout is BEEPING, and others around you are TALKING, and their checkouts are BEEPING, and if you’ve got high energy children who are already overloaded by the shopping experience, this is typically when things seem to hit a climax.
I know I’ve often wished at this point for a hole to develop for myself to hide away from the staring eyes and judgement from the ensuing chaos.
Our solution is – we shop routinely by click and collect.
A morning order is placed for an afternoon collection, allowing us to drive up and minimise our time spent instore and reducing vastly the sensory impact delivered instore.
Executive Functioning tip : some people save lists and do a small order for delivery every few days with the vital items that are needed for their family – paying an annual subscription fee in exchange for peace and headspace needed to support neurodivergent family life.
A tip for all with specific food needs (which quite frankly is a LOT of us) is to go over the list before checkout with a close eye and make sure the all important brands you need are NOT substituted!!
Ham flavoured baked beans was probably the worst I received, when tomato based was what was ordered.
If you know. you know.
Does this correlate with your family’s experience at the supermarket?
What tips have you found?
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