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Shopping with Autism

For most of us, Neuro-typicals, shopping is like driving or riding a bike. We are very sloppy at first and we get better as life goes on. Some will look out for offers and discounts, others will seek out quality, and other will simply stick to what they usually consume as exploring can be too much of a hassle.

However, for a person with Autistic Spectrum Condition, shopping can be a very challenging, overwhelming situation. In my job, I have been lucky to support a few people through a wide range of shops, from little corner ones to massive superstores. Some will only focus on what they love, why wouldn’t they? All the things they love are being displayed in abundance, so it is really hard to walk passed them and focus on more boring stuff, such shower gel or broccoli.

Others have mastered the art of efficiency, having learned the location of what they normally eat and use, so supporting them to their shopping becomes a really amusing “let’s beat the clock” competition against our past selves. The problem is when it comes to going in the till. There are lots of tasty treats, and with no concept of property or money, it is very hard to resist the drive to reach out and just grab one. And eat it on the spot while the support worker has looked away for a second. Eyes peeled, everyone!

Sometimes, though, it is just about choosing the right shop, at the right time for a specific person. If that person struggles with sudden noises, loud cheering and likes to have a quiet environment, we will have to attend a superstore, ideally out of the way during school hours. Easy,  right? Then it comes to half terms, summer holidays, etc. so it’s not a 100% guaranteed success method, it can always go the opposite way.

Going to the local shop is no different. Local shops have all the products everyone may need or crave at some point through the day. Sandwiches, chocolate bars, crisps, milkshakes, gummies… They are genuine beacons of tastyness. So for a person with autism, the first visit to the shop can be a bit overwhelming. I am sure you have seen yourself, whatever night of the week, where you have maybe an hour before going to bed, and you’ve gone on Netflix and started browsing for something to watch, and spent the whole hour unable to choose. Now imagine yourself in a small space, full of treats and drinks you fancy and you have to choose just one. Hard, right?

The good thing is, as time goes on, confidence grows and understanding of the whole process sits. I mean, you can’t really enjoy a snack on your favourite bench while you let the sun warm you up if you’re stuck in a shop trying to buy everything.

We take some things for granted, but for some people it’s a tricky, yet fascinating situation that requires a large amount of effort to master.

Shopping is an essential life skill, and being able to achieve such life skill make a definite possitive impact towards their independence, that’s why by donating to the project, you will be helping more individuals to achieve a little more everyday.

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