Five supermarket hassles every special-needs parent can relate to

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.


5. 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.


4. 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.


3. 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.


2. 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.


1. 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.



Help us make shopping less stressful for special needs families

Love the idea of having a GoTo Shop trolley in your local supermarket?

By working together, we can encourage our supermarkets to support the special-needs community and adopt the GoTo Shop.

Here’s how you can help:

1.Visit the Active Rehab website and register your support 

2.Download and print the flyer and take it to your local supermarket.

3.Spread the word on your social media

The bigger the chorus of voices, the more likely shops and supermarkets across Australia will take notice and act.

For more information about the GoTo Shop campaign visit Active Rehab website.