We live in a society that gets most items from stores. Food, clothing, entertainment, and transportation are all purchased. Having a child with a special need means purchasing some unique items (medical supplies, adapted clothing, study aids, dietary needs). It may mean additional shopping considerations as well (when, where, with whom).
Finding the Right Products
Finding products that fit the needs of your child might be tricky. Some children cannot eat foods with peanuts or their by-products. Having this allergy means more than just avoiding a PBJ sandwich. Some additives contain oils made from peanuts.
Your weekly grocery shopping will take a little longer, at least until you learn which items are okay to toss in the cart. Extra shopping time may mean planning when you will shop with your child (when the store is less crowded or when your child is well rested). At times it might mean shopping without your child in tow.
Clerks are similar to the waiters at the restaurant; most are helpful if they truly understand what you are asking. Perhaps you are shopping for color-coded school sets (red three-ring binder, red folder, red spiral notebook for Reading — the same items in blue for Math, etc.) to help your child stay organized at school. The store may have four color options (red, blue, green, and yellow). You may or may not choose to elaborate with the clerk why you need an orange set and a purple set as well.
If a particular store clerk is helpful and tries to locate the items you need, make a mental note. That is the store and the clerk to seek out with future shopping needs.
Other shoppers can be helpful (allowing you to go ahead of them in line), or they can obviously show pity in the manner of their actions and expressions (not so good). Yet other people may be unsure how to react and move away in awkward or fearful distance. Be thankful for the ones who treat you and your child like everyone else. Your positive attitude, ignoring inappropriate actions or looks, will serve as a model to other shoppers.
Lighting, music, and other store features may actually be “stims” for your child. He may not be able to stop gazing at the lights. He may demand to use a particular door or to ride the escalator again and again. Some store behavior can be addressed before you go shopping. Explain: “We will ride up on the escalator one time. We will try on shirts for school. We will ride the escalator back down one time. Then we will come home.”