Five Supermarket Hassles Every Special-Needs Parent Can Relate To

Five Supermarket Hassles Every Special-Needs Parent Can Relate To

Meltdown Misadventures

Do you ever find yourself staying home just to avoid the stress of nipping to the shops with your kids?


With the bright lights, loud music, crowded aisles, crazy car parks and cumbersome trolleys, it is not surprising grocery shopping can be a stressful experience for families, but it can be especially so when you have a child with special needs.


Meltdown misadventures


Supermarkets - with their fluoro lighting, terrible music and in-your-face signage - are a particular kind of hell for kids with sensitivity to sights or sounds.


If you're a parent of a child who is on the autism spectrum, you will know, being overwhelmed by sensory stimuli can lead to behavioural outbursts and meltdowns.


While it's overwhelming for them; it's an instinctive reaction. But it's also an emotional, and, at times, frustrating experience for the parent who has to help them calm down.


And that's without the judgemental stares and unhelpful comments that can make even the kindest, most patient and accepting mum or dad turn scarlet with embarrassment.


The good news is supermarkets are catching on. Recently, Coles Supermarkets rolled out an ASD-friendly quiet-hour at 70 of its stores with other supermarkets considering similar initiatives.


Toilet troubles


Does anyone else spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking and talking about public toilets?


Having a toilet training child, or one who needs extra help when nature calls, means scoping out a clean and safe public loo quickly - better yet ahead of time - because it's guaranteed before you get to the frozen food your little one will need to go.


Now add the challenge of finding an accessible toilet that's not locked or used as a storage space, has bins for nappies and other hygiene items, sharpes depositories, ramps, rails, lifts or change tables. It's hard at the best of times.


We recommend using an app like Just In Time, which lists more than 16,000 public toilets and restrooms Australia wide because it allows you to filter toilets by available features, such as disabled access, baby changing facilities and sanitary disposal facilities - a lifesaver for mums and dads in a bind.


Car park conundrums


Now before we open a can of worms, we have to admit when it comes to accessible parking, we're relatively lucky here in Australia thanks to planning recommendations that guide the number of spaces available. It could be a lot worse, and in a lot of places, it is.

But that doesn't mean parking isn't a hassle nuisance when you've got kids in tow.


First, there's the hot topic of non-permit holders parking in the bays. The majority of people do the right thing. While it's best not to judge a book by its cover because many conditions are invisible, it can be infuriating to see a few bad apples let down the team, especially when you need that bay.


The biggest issue by far is the struggle of getting the kids out of the car and into a pram, trolley or wheelchair without banging into your neighbour or damaging your vehicle. Just when you think you've got it right a gust of wind blows the cart and has you leaping out to get it like a mad person.


The more kids you have with you and the more cumbersome your equipment, the more maddening the experience can be.


The basket balancing act


A big shop is out of the question. How can you push a trolley and a wheelchair or stroller at the same time? So, basket it is.


Have you tried pushing a child around crowded supermarket aisles while precariously balancing a full basket of groceries? It's a recipe for broken jars, spilt milk and bumping into strangers.


We've seen all manner of improvisations, from resting a basket on the stroller hood to piling food up around the child or making do with an unideal shopping cart but there has to be a better solution.


Shopping trolley struggles


Hands up if you've had to fight with your child to get them sitting safe and sound in the trolley seat?


The heavier they get, the harder it is. Lifting a kid over the handle is near on impossible as they get bigger and that's when they're a perfect little angel. Which, if we're 100 percent honest, is not always the case.


If you have a child, who has limited mobility or requires extra postural support, head support and a secure five-point harness the challenge is even more significant. Do you try using a cart with a baby seat or forget the trolley all together?


Solving the accessible trolley quandary

Have you noticed our top three supermarket hassles have something in common? That's right, shopping trolleys.


We want to transform shopping trips for special needs families across Australia by improving access to adapted trolleys like the GoTo Shop, which features extra postural and head support and a secure five-point harness.


The GoTo Shop trolley has revolutionised shopping for special needs families in the UK and with a little help can do the same in Australia.


The GoTo Shop Cart which is transforming shopping trips for special needs families in more than 1,500 UK stores is now available in Australia.


GoTo Shop has been designed to make shopping easier for parents and carers of young children with disabilities and more comfortable for the child.


The shopping cart seat includes a secure and adjustable five-point harness, adjustable head and lateral support, a padded seat and open front for safe transfer.


Active Rehab is working closely with the special-needs community to encourage our local supermarkets to adopt this fantastic trolley and make a massive difference to the lives of Australia's special needs families.