A U.K. supermarket chain has come up with a solution to make shopping trips easier for children with autism. Asda has developed an interactive shopping list for kids to use as their parents navigate through the store, using symbols and pictures to help engage them in the experience.
The list is called “Happy Little Helpers,” and allows kids to move velcro pieces with pictures of food into a column titled “what we need.” An additional “got it” column is also present, allowing kids to be involved in the hunt for all the necessary groceries.
The concept was developed by Asda employee Jenny Barnett, who has a son that is on the nonverbal side of the autism spectrum. She says that the idea came from Charlie’s teachers, who always use symbols and pictures to help him communicate.
“When he was younger, Charlie used to throw himself to the floor when he was in a big shop. It was clearly too noisy and too crowded for him,” Barnett said to Metro U.K. “By creating the shopping list, it takes the pressure away and helps children concentrate on a task which in turn reduces stress.”
And so far, the initiative has been a success. Asda has now begun expanding Barnett’s visual shopping list to over 300 other stores around the country, meaning that parents can rely on this helpful tactic no matter which location they visit.
“I’m over the moon that the Happy Little Helpers initiative is being introduced into more than 300 stores,” Barnett 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.”
Asda will also be holding awareness events to spread the news about the new initiative, allowing any parents who feel like their child may benefit from the games to give them a test run.
This isn’t the first time the U.K. based chain has catered to those with special needs either, previously introducing ideas like quiet hours to make their stores less stimulating, and inclusive restroom facilities that offer a safe space for those with non-visible illnesses.