Monday, 16 May 2011

Grocery Shopping With Your Child On the Autism Spectrum

O.K, I'll admit it.  I have not mastered this skill "gracefully."  I prefer to go shopping for anything without Dayton coming with me.  This is much, much easier to do now that I'm on medical leave and he's still in school.  But when I do have to take Dayton with me, I need to plan and prepare.  A simple trip to the grocery store requires the preparation of a military invasion.  Hiding in every isle is the potential for a super duper melt down.  These kids have sensory issues, right?  Sensory meaning sight, sound, taste, motion...

I love to shop at Costco's.  I get everything I need there, in bulk, making grocery shopping less frequent.  Also, Dayton is a tall nine year old boy, and Costco's is the only store with them huge shopping carts my boy can still fit into while I shop.  Efficiency is everything in my world with autism.  For Dayton though, the lights are too bright and they emit a buzz that only one with autism and perhaps dogs can hear.  When Dayton can't handle the crowd, or the lights, or the "buzz," he curls into a foetal position in the shopping cart, and covers his head and the rest of his body with his jacket to muffle the sounds of people speaking and protect his eyes from the light.  If I take Dayton shopping with me, I can not take his father with us, he gets "embarrassed" when Dayton does this because people keep staring, and he of course wants to "punch them out."  Much, much easier to go alone with Dayton then, less chance of losing my Costco's membership and having to bail Dayton's father out of jail.

Not only do I have to worry about the Nutella being moved to a new location when Dayton knows exactly what isle it's in, the shelf and location, and when he sees it's not there, he enters what I call the "point of no return."  Melt down city baby...  I also have to protect my baby from stupid people.  Yes, I said it.  Some people are just too stupid to mind their own bee's wax and not meddle in my affairs.  This is where an autism mom's military precision of executing a grocery shop kicks into over drive.

For those of you with kids not on the autism spectrum, think back to the days when your own child was a toddler.  Ahhh yes...  fun times!  Remember when they'd throw a fit, and you got the "look" from women glancing sideways at you with their nostrils flaring and blowing out fire?  Yeah, I get that A LOT.  I call those women the grocery store snipers.  I whip out my grenade launcher, just in case.  While Dayton may not be able to read their facial expression, I CAN, AND LADY, I SEE YOU!  Take cover, cause I'm gonna blow!

Them snipers get their panties in a tighter knot when Dayton is walking beside the shopping cart in Safeway (since I can't put him in their shopping cart, there's just not enough room for groceries then).  When Dayton didn't hear the sniper say excuse me to him (for him to get out of her way) and neither had I, she actually pushed Dayton out of her way with her shopping cart as he stood there stimming (self stimulating to cope)!  I fired my grenade launcher that day, and pushed her out of my way with my shopping cart without asking her to "excuse me."  She whipped her head around and asked me what my problem was.  So I told her.  "Well I asked him to excuse me and he ignored me!  You should really talk to your child about respect and maybe discipline him and give him a swat on the butt."  I fired my grenade  launcher at her "You clueless twit, my son has autism, what's your excuse?!"  And so I left her standing there with her jaw on the floor.  I picked up Dayton who now is getting vocal and parroting the word "twit" over and over, knowing somehow I was protecting him, but not understanding what I was protecting him from.  His sense of safety broken, I pick him up, put him in the grocery cart and wheeled us out of the store.

God gave us mothers two hands, I need both of mine to maneuver my way around the grocery store and ensure Dayton is where he should be.

Am I proud of my behavior?  Do two wrongs make a right?  No...  But sometimes, I just can't help myself.  Sometimes I'm just tired and don't have the patience for ignorance.  Sometimes I just want to pull my baby and me in a little cocoon and be left alone.  Sometimes...   I turn into GI Jane (without the muscle...  see, I don't like to make others jealous, so I've covered the muscle with a layer or two of adipose tissue).

"In my opinion, we don't devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks." - Calvin & Hobbes

Consider yourselves hugged, and keep the bazooka loaded!  I prefer the grenade launcher, more efficient in it's wake of damage...  but to each their own,


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