Monday, September 10, 2012

the shopping cart dilemma: toddlers + grocery stores


We've come to THAT age...the independently-minded 3 year old. This is one of those times when I can't really say its related to autism, but man alive get me into a tough situation and I WILL use that card if I need to because even if all 3 year-old children have this problem I'm sure the autism isn't helping it! G absolutely refuses to sit in the little shopping cart seat (and practically couldn't if he would due to his size) and now he doesn't really even want to sit in the big shopping cart area. I blame it on my husband because when he was with us once he let him run around and now he wants to do that EVERY TIME! 

Last Friday we headed to Trader Joe's for G's essentials (rice milk, peanut butter, and abc cookies). Before even entering the store G insists he wants to walk. UGH!!!!!!!!! It was busy and people are rushing all around us. So, he runs off and I catch up. I go to grab him and he rushes away. I grab him by the arm (the move I dreaded having my mom do to me as a child) and he screams. People immediately look over. I think, "Go ahead just call me a horrible mom with an out of control child right now before we get going and that way we can all just move on with out lives!" 

Funny thing is I was just thinking that morning about behavioral therapy and how I really wish I had that in-home support now to help us transition to this new change in shopping behavior. Little did I know I'd need that support this very morning.

After grabbing G I proceeded to attempt teaching my child all about grasping on to the side of the cart and keeping one hand on it at ALL TIMES! Yeah right! Seriously, how do moms teach their kids to do that? Is it really realistic. He wanted nothing to do with my little "teaching moment" and it quickly became a useless endeavor. Thankfully, I realized I needed to make it more exciting to hold tight to that cart and I enthusiastically asked G if he'd like to push the cart. He came over and got behind that thing pushing it along. That worked for most of the trip, but it was undoubtedly intermixed with wandering steps. I would grab items from the shelf and have G drop them into the cart and he seemed to enjoy that. I gave him choices of foods and he that engaged him some more as well.  When he would push too far I'd ask him to back it up like a truck and he'd make the beeping sound and back the cart up. 

By the time we made it to the register I had that little moment when you think "No, don't go with that line even though it is shorter" but I didn't listen and the darn gal was shopping for her wedding (a TJ employee) and ordering a million bottles of wine and garlic pizza dough. Seriously!! I waited it out and then finally gave up and moved to the line next to me. Kind of like on Office Space when the guy goes back and forth between traffic lanes and gets NO WHERE!! Well, we finally checked out the same time I would have had I stayed where I started. G wandered some more and I had to pull him back. He seems oblivious to the people around him and they will say "excuse me" and ask him to move and its like he doesn't hear them. Mental note: Something else to work on! It was only the last 2 minutes I finally caved and gave him my iPhone to get us through checkout. 

I would definitely call that trip successful but I doubt I will do that very often. Its good for him and working on behavior, but man its demanding! I think it will get easier over time as we develop a new routine and new expectations for grocery store behavior. I think a big key to success will be reinforcements and distractions (the two major principles that all of G's therapies taught me). We were able to find a panorama and pictures on the walls well above eye view that I would have never seen in my life if it weren't for needing to distract G. 

So, I guess even though I didn't have an autism interventionist or specialist right there with me, I did have the most amazing parenting principles (which they taught me) I could ever be given to make a successful trip through the grocery store! 

I'm sure there are many other great tactics (my favorite, leaving them home with dad). I'd love to know! 

So, what you do to make it through the grocery store with young ones who won't have anything to do with the shopping cart?

1 comment:

  1. Hey sis, sounds like quite an experience. I have a constant problem with Elliot too. I always hated it when he screamed right when I was putting him in the cart. I was ready to walk right out again. But he has gotten better. I started using choices. Do you want to hang on or get in? Do you want to walk by me or get in? And after so many sad choices he gets put in the cart. Having the older boys be in charge of things help too. I have to say it was embarrassing to catch the two older boys wiping their fingers on the shelves licking up sugar that had spilt. I was so furious, but told them I'd take care of it later. And later when we did something or had treats I told them they couldn't have it because of earlier. It's hard as a mom to not give them things but then there are so many opportunities to teach them. I hope they can learn everything now and not later. Good Luck sis