ASDA has launched a new innitiative called ‘Happy Little Helpers’ to make shopping less stressful for children with autism.
The supermarket decided to roll out the scheme after a successful trial at their Middlesbrough store, where autistic children were given a colourful shopping list.
The list features a range of shopping choices such as milk, bread and bananas that children can tick off once they’ve been added to the trolley.
The innovative idea came from an ASDA employee, Jenny Barnett, whose five-year-old son Charlie suffers from non-verbal autism.
She came up with the idea to keep children interested and engaged during their shopping trips after seeing how her son’ school uses symbols and pictures to help him communicate.
‘I’m over the moon that this has been rolled out to hundreds of Asda stores – I’m chuffed to bits,’ the 32-year-old mum said.
‘It’s such a nice feeling that I can walk into an Asda miles away from Middlesbrough and see another child benefitting from my idea – it’s going to help so many children which is great.
‘Customers and colleagues have said to me it’s a great idea. It just shows that colleagues should always come forward with ideas – you never know what’s going to happen,’ she continued.
The game is also being praised by charities, who say more retailers should follow ASDA’s example to make their establishments less overwhelming for children who suffer from autism. ‘The National Autistic Society is always delighted to hear about shops and services making small changes to ensure their venue is as autism friendly as possible,’ said the charity’s head of campaigns and public engagement, Tom Purser.
‘Supermarkets can often be a very overwhelming place for people on the autism spectrum and Jenny’s visual shopping list idea is a great way to help reduce the overload and make shopping a more pleasant experience for autistic children and their families.
‘Asda’s initiative is a great example of an organisation taking the trouble to understand how autistic children and adults experience the world and we hope other retailers are inspired to follow their example.’