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5 Ways to Help Your Child with Autism at the Store 

Autism Spectrum Disorder Anaheim

Mother and daughter shopping for broccoli at a grocery store


If you have a child with Autism, you understand how difficult it might be to take your child to the store for an errand. There are many things in that environment that might potentially cause a meltdown, such as strange sights, sounds, smells, and other sensory stimuli. This can turn into your child getting overwhelmed and upset, making it impossible to finish your trip. To the outside observer, this may just appear as if your child is misbehaving and that can cause additional stress. But overcoming fears and becoming normalized in this common routine will help your child overcome or learn to tolerate the experience. Here are 5 ways to help your child with Autism at the store.


1. Give them something to work for. Setting up reinforcement/reward before entering the store is important. Clearly tell them how to earn it. This way they know if they have a good trip to

the store they earn something after. Celebrate a successful trip to the store. If the reward is something you can purchase at the store, put it at the bottom of your list so there is something to look forward to.

2. Give them a way to help. Let them oversee the grocery list or getting items in the same area you are in, or push the cart. Staying involved in the process can help to create a routine and peak interest.

3. Pack some activities or toys they can play with, in case they need to be entertained.

4. Use lots of positive reinforcement when your child is engaging inappropriate behavior. An Example would be, “Thank you for getting me the cereal,” or, “Great job checking things off of the list!”

5. Keep your eye on your child when in the store. It is very easy for children to get lost in the store.


Going to the store can be a great opportunity to work on waiting, following commands, communication, and many other skills we work on in ABA. Our staff at Acuity Behavior Solutions can go to the store with you and your child to work on skills that are a part of their program. If you have any questions or concerns about this article or about ABA Therapy, please contact Acuity Behavior Solutions at (714) 696-2862 or info@acuitybehaviorsolutions.com.