Sunday, March 05, 2006

Grocery Shopping

If you have ever tried grocery shopping with a child, you have undoubtedly experienced true joy as a parent. Shopping with a special needs child can elevate this experience to a whole new level.

Take for example, an apple. An apple is an apple is an apple. Not quite. I, for example, prefer a particular brand of apple. I have one type that I like to eat and one type for baking, however in general, I normally buy the same type. This usually entails stopping by the apples and selecting the nicest ones for my lunch. If you have a child with autism however, this would not be the same. An autistic child, as I have been told, will fixate on one particular object. In dear son’s classroom, there was a child (Jack) whose fixation was apples. Taking Jack into the community, was special. Jack not only wanted apples, but he wanted “that” apple. This might not be a problem to let Jack have a particular apple, however Jack typically wanted an apple that was, let’s say, “your” apple, especially if it was in “your” hand or in “your” cart. Once this occurred, the entire visit would entail verbally and physically refraining Jack from taking someone’s apple.

My son is not autistic. In better days, he had more control of his legs, even though he was in a wheelchair. Dear son did not particularly care for grocery shopping. The problems with grocery shopping had to do mainly with time and stopping. Essentially, it took too long and there were multiple “stops”. Dear son likes to keep moving. He does not like to do such things as, stopping for a red light. It simply takes too long. He also enjoys it when we take walks outside. When we walk outside, it does not include stopping. The grocery store then became a game of seeing how fast I could get the item off the shelf and into the cart, without stopping. Should I, by chance, need to stop and look at an item, he would then proceed with Plan B. Plan B involved a lot more coordination.

Plan B was essentially taking his foot and catching it on any item on the shelf and flipping it high up into the air where I would proceed to call his name out in a shrill and hurried fashion and then run to “catch” the item in mid air. He was most successful in the chip aisle. And pretty good at it too. When he was successful at propelling the item, he would inevitably smile and then squeal with delight should the item hit the ground. This pretty much ended the grocery shopping.

Currently, it’s more of a physical issue when I take him to the store. It’s just physically challenging to lift all 130 pounds of him in/out of the car and then to push the wheelchair with my left hand and pull the grocery cart with my right hand. The “up” side to this is that you really don’t ever “forget” anything at the grocery store. It’s too much work to go back; so as I cook during the week, I will highlight each item on my grocery list as I use it, so I don’t forget. Dear son can no longer lift his legs so flipping the grocery items is no longer a challenge. If anything now, it is a delight to take him. He smiles when I put his favorite item into the cart, namely, blueberry yogurt. But today, I’ll forgo those delights and simply wait until he’s back in school to do my shopping.

1 comment:

Suzi Doe said...

You can ask your grocery store to get a wheelchair cart. I use bunji cords to attach to my hubbies wheelchair. Then I can take him along. He too is sometimes bedridden, with lots of issues. If the store says no ask a local service club to donate them to your most common stores. So far every store I ask purchases one.

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