Tips to Decrease Autism-Related Shopping Meltdowns

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A shopping trip to the mall can be simple for some, but overwhelming for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The abundance of sights, sounds and people can be overwhelming and lead to a shopping meltdown. In this blog post, the team at Innovative Speech Language Pathology would like to share the following strategies to help prevent autism-related meltdowns on your child’s next shopping experience.

Talk to Your Child Beforehand

Knowing what to expect beforehand can better help your child deal with potentially stressful and overstimulating environments such as a shopping mall. Before your shopping trip, take the time to talk to your child and explain to them what they can expect from the trip. Explain who will be joining you on the trip and what the purpose of the trip is. You can also write a social story that explains step by step what your child can expect during your shopping trip.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

Making sure your child is well rested the night before can drastically reduce the chances of a shopping meltdown.

Take a Virtual Tour

When possible, have your child take a virtual tour of the store you are planning to visit. This will help your child understand what to expect and become familiar with their new environment. If a virtual tour is not available on the store’s website, consider visiting the store on your own first to take pictures and video.

Start Small and Keep It Short

Taking your child on an all-day shopping trip can be tiresome and overwhelming. Ease your child into shopping by starting with a short trip to the grocery store or mall. Once your child is comfortable with short trips, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend at the store. Be sure to praise your children for their good behavior.

Have a Signal

Establish a way for your child to signal to you that they are beginning to feel overwhelmed. This might be a verbal cue such as, “I need a break,” or a non-verbal cue like putting their hands over their ears.

About Innovative SLP

At Innovative Speech Language Pathology, our team of highly trained therapists are equipped with the tools and experience to help your child succeed. We offer several services for autistic children and their families, including occupational therapy. To learn more, schedule an appointment by contacting us at our Beverly Hills office (310) 659-9511 today.