During the Coronavirus pandemic you may have noticed some big changes in the way in which supermarkets are operating.
A supermarket can be a stressful place for somebody on the spectrum when they are operating normally. See my previous blog post about this subject by clicking here.
Imagine building yourself up to go and complete your weekly food shop only to find the setup is now completely different. This has caused many anxiety and I predict a few meltdowns too.
A big problem I’ve been encountering is the ‘one person per trolley/basket’ rule.
I often attend the supermarket with another person to help me stay calm and on task. Sadly, I was told under no exceptions was I to enter the supermarket with my partner, even when I tried to explain that I am Autistic and required that extra assistance, the supermarket staff still didn’t allow it… I was unable to complete my shopping that day as the refusal to enter made me feel vulnerable and I wanted to get back to the certainty of my home environment.
I tried to order food online as an alternative but, due to limited delivery slots and those with additional needs not being prioritised this wasn’t an option for me either.
I understand the rules are in place to protect all members of the general public and keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum – I don’t knock the importance of this during these unprecedented times. But, perhaps these rules need to take into account those with disabilities or additional needs? Maybe the early morning shopping hours specified for NHS staff could also be set aside to include those with extra requirements being allowed to enter with one other person as a supporter/carer? This would also help avoid the long queues which can cause sensory overload.
The National Autistic Society have recently issued an open letter to Supermarket CEOs which asks them to reassess the implemented rules and make them more inclusive. We need as many people as possible to sign and help reach the target of 10,000 signatures. Please click here to be taken to the open letter and signature page.
I hope that this short blog post will compel you to take a few moments out of your day to sign this open letter and help support those on the Autistic spectrum – we really need your help.
Click here for more supermarket visit support and advice provided by the National Autistic Society.