• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”

Navigating the Holidays with Autism: Part VI: Grocery Shopping Online

nav holidays p 6Many people and stores are now participating in the online shopping experience. Many chains even offer the ability to shop for groceries online. This can have many benefits for the person dealing with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, especially if they also have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). The ability to shop from the convenience of your own home with the option to send someone else to pick up your order later can be invaluable especially during the holiday season.

Avoid the Overload

Grocery stores can be very stressful for anyone, but when you add the specific issues of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome they can add on a whole other level of stress. Everyone knows the irritation and frustration they feel when being jostled by a crowd while holiday shopping. Add to that, the cacophony of sounds such as the electronic beeping of the register, the constant ringing of cell phones going off, the announcements over the loudspeaker, the music being pumped through the intercom, and various children, laughing and crying. Don’t forget about the smells of the bakery, the deli, the butcher department, and the cleaning agents used throughout the store! All of this coming at once with no filter can quickly overwhelm an autistic individual making them want to run for the hills or worse lead to a meltdown in public.Shopping online offers a way to avoid this unless absolutely necessary. It gives you the chance to stay safe in the sanctuary of your own home and significantly reduce exposure to additional stressful factors which can erode the holiday spirit!

How Does it Work?

Each chain is different, and careful review of their policies should be done prior to engaging in an online shopping experience. The basic way it works is that the store’s website will have a section where you can go and place items in your grocery cart. Most websites have pictures of the exact item so you know what you’re ordering. Once you pay with your credit/debit card, a time can be scheduled when the groceries can be picked up. This new way of grocery shopping can be of tremendous benefit to those on the autism spectrum. Many supermarkets even have designated parking spots for online shopping pick-up and will deliver the bags right to your vehicle.

What Stores Participate?

Stores which offer this online shopping experience vary from state to state and their procedures change with each participating chain. Some of the larger chain stores may participate, but only offer it in certain locations. Checking an individual store’s websites and speaking to their customer service departments can clear up many questions you may have. Some stores which are known to participate are: Piggly Wiggly, Walmart, Harris Teeter, and Sam’s Club.

Using the online grocery shopping option can help an autistic person complete a very major task without the stress of leaving their homes, (except possibly for picking up the groceries). Without having to face the stressful environment and deal with the challenges that the grocery stores present during this time can enable an autistic person to complete this task and keep being productive without the need to decompress afterwards. Finding out which stores participate and reviewing their procedures can open up a new world of efficiency for a task which otherwise could have significant negative impact on them. Navigating the Holidays with Autism: Part I: Thanksgiving with Picky EatersNavigating the Holidays with Autism: Part II: Family GatheringsNavigating the Holidays with Autism: Part III: Gift Giving and SurprisesNavigating the Holidays with Autism: Part IV: Holiday Shopping TipsNavigating the Holidays with Autism: Part V: Beyond Gift Shopping—Groceries

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert , contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, three of which are on the autism spectrum.
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