Buying groceries. Stocking up on household supplies. Even running out to grab toilet paper, require us to leave our homes and enter into the social world of shopping. Most of us would agree that we are more efficient in these tasks when we are alone. We can focus on the ‘list’, move about the store freely and quickly, and leave with a sense of accomplishment. When we add others to the scenario, the situation becomes more complex. Juggling others attention, time management, and increases responsibility for those whom are with you. Parents of ASD kids often report increased struggles, such as sensitivities to particular environmental stressors (e.g. lights, noise, smells) or their own fears and anxieties to potential ‘melt downs’ during the shopping process. Ultimately, diverting attention to the task of shopping increases frustration- for all involved- and often lacks the intended accomplishment for going to the store to begin with.
The question, “To take them or not?”
While sometimes this is not an option, when it is a choice to have company or not, be mindful in making your decision. A few things to consider before going could be:
· How much time do I have?
· Am I emotionally available to address any challenges?
· Am I avoiding taking my child because it is easier without them?
Yourself or others should answer these questions honestly, without judgment. In the moment, your responses will guide your decisions and perhaps they can be the launching points for areas you can address at a later point. The intention of including others during the mundane tasks, is just that-inclusion. It’s up to you when you want others- be it anyone- to be part of you experiences.
“Ok, you said yes, know what?”
So you’ve decided to take your child with you on your errands. But now what? Here are some things to keep in mind while out:
· How am I inviting my child to be part of the experience?
· What is my reaction to what others think when my child engages in odd behavior?
· When do I call it quits? Who decides when it has been an enough?
Again, be honest with your self when responding. Shopping together is not a battle to conquer, yet can be a powerful learning moment-both for you and your child. Furthermore, it provides the opportunity to authentically connect with in the parent-child relationship- even over something as ordinary as buying toilet paper.