Life Skills for Special Needs Children: Shopping 101

I recently stumbled across a blog about one woman’s observation of another woman shopping with her autistic child.  This blog received many, many replies from other parents who have had or witnessed similar challenging experiences. I can relate. I have had the humiliating experience of being asked to leave places because of my daughter’s behavior, even when she was very young. Most of the time, I just got angry looks or nasty comments. Sometimes I would be crying in the car on the way home, silently swearing I would never go shopping with her again. I always did gather my strength to do it again, however, and so must you if you want what’s best for your child.

I know of many families who have stopped taking their special children shopping because the stress is simply too great. I get it–totally. Unfortunately, it is difficult to go back to shopping with them when they are older because they view it as a negative or unfamiliar activity. The older they are, the harder it can be to introduce something new to them. I have never allowed Walmart, Target or the grocery store to become strange to Deborah. It has required much perseverance, but I’m glad I did it. I was able to take her shopping last week at Target with her Christmas money. She was able to look for the Just Dance 4 Wii game and didn’t melt down when they were out. Then she accepted looking for a CD and some clothes instead. She handled trying on clothes and allowed me to explain to her how some things weren’t the right size or wouldn’t work for school. No fits or demands that she have everything. In the end, we were there for an hour and a half. I was tired, but very impressed at how far we had come.

Shopping is simply a necessary part of life, so I’m going to offer you Life Skills for Special Needs Children: Shopping 101.  I’ll tell you some of the tricks I learned the hard way so maybe it will be easier for you. Since this is a very complicated topic, I expect it will take me several articles to cover the major points. I hope many of you will comment on what I’ve written so that we can all learn from each other. I certainly still have much to learn, and children are so different from each other that one way of doing things won’t necessarily work for everyone. So, let me hear from you and we can start a dialogue. Watch for the next installment.

© 2013, Margaret. All rights reserved.