For the most part Neiva is such a laid back and quiet natured girl. However, when anxiety strikes, its strikes sudden and loud. Anxiety for Neiva is most common when we are at a supermarket. Most people assume it’s a sensory overload of noise but noise isn’t something that worries Neiva. Its busy crowds.
As she looks older than her tender age of five, random loud outbursts can be really embarrassing. To a random passerby, in that moment, she can look like a child with a bratty attitude. She certainly isnt that. Her true personality is anything but.
I don’t need parenting approval from strangers but I certainly don’t want someone going away talking about the “spoilt child in the supermarket today…” when it is something that she has no control over. I also needed to know the difference between a outburst due to stress and anxiety and a deliberate willful disobedient one.
We needed to make some adjustments and like everything else in life, its all about the preparation.
- First we changed supermarkets from a big store to a smaller one. Neiva is very rarely overwhelmed in our smaller supermarket. It’s familiar, quiet and she knows where everything is.
- I always try to have a list with me to make sure our shop is done quickly and efficiently.
- We always try to do the same routine from going through the same door to the same path of aisles (as it’s a small store, it doesn’t take us long)
- Neiva is in charge of the pull along basket and I get her to look for the things we need which distracts her for a little while and if I’m really organised that day (and because of her reading ability), there may be a written list.
- We will always finish at the same bank of self service checkouts by the magazines so she can go look at them whilst I quickly run my shopping through at the side of her.
Social Stories & Sequencing
Social Stories are great for preparing a child for any regular real life situation.
Using these stories and sequences she is able to know what’s coming next, eliminating any frustration and calming any anxiety. I made one especially for our supermarket trip and will add more destinations as and when I feel there’s a need.
You will see from the story that I haven’t written anything in the last box. This is for when we have time to go to the cafe afterwards. Neiva would be able to read anything I put in the last box and would then be expecting to go to the cafe every single time. By keeping it clear gives me the flexibility on days where I am pressed for time.
It is only a quickly made basic visual and because it’s made of card and paper it’s a bit scruffy and sorry looking. I will update this shopping social story for a new one when my weeks of hinting to Paul for a laminator has finally paid off!