Shopping Trips With Your Child

Guest Authored By Colleen McPherson, RBT

Blue Bird Day and family shopping

Shopping trips with your child can be very beneficial to their goals with practical living skills.  There are many things that you can work on when going on trips to the grocery store.  When taking your child to the grocery store make sure you bring a few important items.  If your child communicates via PECS or an AAC device, bring them to allow the child to communicate with you through them.  A few other things: grocery stores and clothing stores can be very busy at times and potentially overwhelming.  It may be a good idea to bring your child’s favorite sensory toys to squeeze if needed.  One more thing that may be good to have in your bag would be headphones if your child regularly uses them.  Below are some ideas of what you can work on with your child on shopping trips! 

1. Mands (requests): 

When you are walking through the grocery store and your child finds their favorite apple sauce.  Instead of allowing them to grab it and put it in the cart right away, work on having them request it.  They can do this verbally, with PECS or an AAC device.  Walk them to the aisles that you know their favorite foods are so that they are highly motivated to request them from you.  When they do request the items, allow them to put the food in the basket! 

2. Tacting (Labeling) 

You can also work on labeling items at different stores.  While walking through a clothing store, you can pick up a shoe and ask your child “What is this?”.  Give your child a moment to respond, and if they are not sure, ask them again “What is this?” and help them a bit and say “Shh” (or gesture towards the AAC or PECS).  Continue to assist them until they verbalize the shoe (or a close approximation) or touch it on their AAC or PECS.  When they have done this reinforce them.   

3. Create Shopping lists 

Create shopping lists for your trips to the grocery store.  Talk with your child or pick out their favorite snack that you can make with them.  From there, make a visual shopping list that you can print off and bring with you to the grocery store so that your child can follow along and find each item.  Make it fun, turn it into a “Snack scavenger hunt!”.