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

nav holidays p 6Many people are now participating in the online shopping experience. Thanks to companies like Revel Systems and their software (to learn more, read here), it is not offered by many more stores and it is even possible to order on your mobile or to use a self-service kiosk if you do have to go into the store. Many chains also offer the ability to shop for groceries online –an industry that is primed for growth. Customers in developed nations like the United States, the United Kingdom or South Korea prefer online grocery shopping over visiting a physical store. Not having to visit overcrowded department stores is extremely beneficial for people dealing with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, and especially those with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). As a result, more and more shoppers seem to be moving towards the convenience of delivery services, including those perishables that require refrigerated vehicles. Chilled vehicle hire, like those provided by Cool running Rental and the likes seem to have become the staple for this particular supply chain. Given the increased demand of delivering online grocery, over long distances and short, vehicles offered by these companies ensure groceries and perishables stay fresh throughout. Moreover, 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. By choosing to shop online, you may think that you lose the option of having someone to help you out if anything was to go wrong with your purchases. But pretty much all online stores now include online customer support services to give customers they help they are after. Not everyone is capable of making it into a store to sort out a situation, so what better way to do this than through the comfort of your own home. Not only is this beneficial for the customer, but the business too. You can check out a site like https://www.salesforce.com/products/service-cloud/what-is-customer-service/ to see why this is such an important factor to any business.

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, on the autism spectrum.