Leesa goes shopping

Grocery shopping was unbearable! We hated taking Leesa, our daughter with autism, to the grocery store. She had nothing to do. She would get our attention by breaking away and make us chase her all over the store. When we would go past certain items, Leesa would emotionally demand that we must buy them. For us, taking Leesa to the grocery store was so unbearable we had to seek help.

Vinda Stitt, a teacher’s aide with 20 years experience working with children with autism, came to our rescue. She went grocery shopping with us, and then the following week Vinda gave us this ingenious solution. She suggested that we make up a list of items that Leesa would get during our grocery shopping. Vinda told us we could simply make up a list for Leesa by cutting and taping each label to a 4 by 6 index card of the items. She also told us that we write the name of the item on the index card and put the index cards into a photo portfolio arranged in the order we would come across them during our journey through the store. After Leesa gets the item, she removes the item’s index card from the photo portfolio and puts it in an ‘All Done’ box.

This solution worked immediately. Leesa now has something she loves to do. Within a few short weeks, I bought a digital camera and started taking pictures of the items we buy at the store. We have expanded our shopping list and Leesa now gets almost every item that we buy from the grocery store. All we have to do is follow Leesa around the store pushing the shopping cart behind her. Our shopping trips are enjoyable now for all of us!

My family has been using a visual shopping list for years. My bank has a branch office at the grocery store where we do our shopping. Leesa could not wait in line for us to complete our transaction, so we placed the shopping basket beside the bank line and sent Leesa out into the store with her visual shopping list. She would go get items and bring them back to the basket. Many times parents standing in line with us would watch Leesa, smile and say, “You have a great helper”.

Recently we found another application for Leesa’s visual shopping. Leesa could not write very well. She had no spacing of letters and where to put words on a line. So every week we put together Leesa’s visual shopping list and then we made her write entire shopping list on paper. It took a couple of months for her writing to become legible. When Leesa goes to the store today, she looks like another 15 year old pushing the shopping cart with her shopping list in hand during her grocery shopping.

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