By Jacqueline Forchetti, BCBA
Here are 8 tips I use with families to ensure a successful shopping experience and learning opportunity for children.
1. Prepare! As with all outings with children, especially those with special needs, you can never be too prepared! - Take some pictures of both the outside and inside of the store. It's helpful for children to see exactly where they are going in advance. Making the pictures into a mini book and letting your child review it and hold on it prior to the shopping trip can help to minimize anxiety over where you are going. Viewing a store’s website may be helpful as well to have your child familiarize themselves with the new environment they will be going into.
2. Use a visual schedule to plan the day! It is always helpful for a child to have prior notice that a shopping trip is coming. If you can, use a visual schedule to plan your child’s day ahead of time, it can help ease their anxiety.
3 Start Small - If it is your child’s first time to the grocery store or especially if they are very young it is better to make the trip as short as possible. Make a list of no more than 5 things, get in, follow the list, get out! Think, short sweet and successful
4 Practice expected behavior. Use pretend play to practice at home prior to your trip. This can be done by setting up a mock store and practicing shopping. It's a fun way to prepare for your outing.
Shop some of our favorite items to practice at home: