Shopping is not always easy with an autistic child.
Shops are stressful environments, there are lots of people, smells, usually music (which in some shops is ridiculously loud) and very bright lights. With shoe shopping, throw in the necessary interaction with shop staff, measuring feet, and lots of shoes to choose from.(my boys find it very difficult to make choices, and often become so stressed that they give up) and it can be very stressful.
The best advice I was ever given was once my son had found shoes he was happy with, to buy an extra pair, and if possible a pair in the next size up. He wore 4 pairs of black and blue Lonsdale trainers in a row.
Some other things I’ve learnt along the way are
- Preparation is everything.
- Using a social story is a big help. Make one going through all the stages of going to the shop and buying the shoes. If possible include photos of the shop, and the foot measuring equipment.
- If your child is familiar with now and next make a board to take to the shoe shop i.e. Now we are going to choose the shoes, next we will try the shoes on.
- If possible take photos of the shoes available before taking your child, so your child can pick out the ones they’d like to try beforehand to eliminate some of the stress of choosing. Bear in mind that it’s worth picking more than one pair in case they aren’t available on the day.
- Visit the store without the child beforehand to let them know about your child’s needs. For example my son gets very stressed by small talk, so it’s useful for me to ask them not to chat too much to him.
- If it’s too much for your child to manage it all in one go just have their feet measured, then make another visit to choose and buy the shoes.
This tip is from @drbobphillips on twitter. Modelling by kids without autism. (For me it was always helpful -especially when he was younger-to take one of my sons siblings along so he could watch them have their feet measured and choosing shoes before him) Searching games to find the size on shelf after sizing.
He also suggested earphones, listening to music will help to block out noise which can be distressing, ear defenders are also very useful.
I hope this is helpful, what tips would you add? Let us know in the comments.