Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Errands with the kiddos

Even on good days a trip to the grocery store can prove disastrous with kids. When you add in multiples and also special needs, it can be really trying. So trying, in fact, that today I shot out a tweet - almost in fear:

No, not from today, but it is 2 triplets
& they are in a cart.
Don't get so picky about details!
As it turned out, the trip was probably the best we've had in a long time. It was just me with Princess and Angel triplets, and we spent over an hour in the grocery store with absolutely NO meltdowns to speak of, no major challenges at all. The only thing I can identify that may have made it easier was being able to spy one of the big, 3-kid-seat carts in a cart return. Of course I parked the van as close as I could, grabbed it before getting the girls out of the van, and moved them into that directly from the van. That saved us numerous transitions, which I really was worrying about as we were driving into the lot. Beyond that, the free bakery cookies helped, but mostly the girls were just in really great moods. They were pleased to be out of the house and somewhere different and were excited about the sights around them. That doesn't mean the sounds of carts moving around, the electronic alarm going off or the bottle return noise (from 3 aisles away) didn't adversely affect them. We still had fingers in ears & hands over ears even while 3 aisles or more away from the sounds.

They continued the good behavior by playing quietly once we arrived home so I could even unload the groceries in relative peace. Are they getting older? Are they just becoming more used to their surroundings? Maybe, or maybe we were lucky and hit everything right on. In any case, I absolutely know that it could have all gone horribly wrong in 2 minutes or less.

Then an even more surprising thing happened. Meijer replied:

How do you like that? One of my regular grocery stores wants to know how they can help make a sometimes very challenging experience better for my daughters. I'd say that's good customer service! Since it was only a day after a huge firestorm erupted after word got out about a Kalamazoo salon owner berating a customer for not controlling her autistic son as he received a haircut, I'd say Meijer looked pretty family friendly and proactive today. And trust me, I don't always give them credit for those two things.

Anyway, the question, "how can we help you," prompted me to wonder exactly how to answer back. It also made me wonder what other folks like me do with the basic errands of life. You know, people like you. How do you involve your autistic (or special needs) children without feeling too much apprehension? How do you plan for a great time? Or is it simply beyond our ability to control and we just take what we can get, smiling when it's good, crying when it's bad? I asked for feedback on my newly created Facebook page too and am waiting for responses. I'd love to get some feedback that I could actually give to Meijer. How could they make it easier for kids with autism to feel comfortable in the shopping experience? With 1 in 88 kids being diagnosed with autism, it's worth knowing. Besides, I think it's important to reward companies when they start asking the right questions.

So stop by the Facebook page, like it & reply. Or, just comment below. Let's get some answers out there, because somebody wants to help, and I don't know about you, but I don't always feel that kind of love when I'm out with my autistic kiddos.


  1. Caroline GraysonMay 30, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    I suggest music with headphones that can be checked in and out from a customer service area (and cleaned, of course), ditto with sunglasses. This would reduce the external stimulation and provide a regular comfort routine while shopping.

    1. That's an interesting idea Caroline. Sort of a mobile quiet room.

  2. Replies
    1. I know right! I even went for another short trip again today with the same excellent results.