Sunday, 10 July 2011

Supermarket sweep.... well OK, meltdown actually...

Yesterday I read 2 posts from other mums which were so brilliantly written I would like to share them.

First, Scottish Mum talks about what it is like to suffer the 'fall-out' from her ASD child please read her post by clicking here
Second, Apples and Autobots talks about a supermarket trip with her ASD child please read here

These were both very moving for me to read, largely because they hit home. Those with ASD children will just 'get' it; I hope those without (with 'NT'/neurotypical children) will take the time to read as they explain so very well what the difference is between being naughty and having an ASD related meltdown.

My husband took our 2 girls out to McDonald's as a treat yesterday afternoon, and then popped into the supermarket with them to pick up just 7 or 8 items we needed. Our supermarket is one of the largest ones this chain has in our country - great for choice, but not great when all you need is a quick shop. Anyhow things started going downhill with Sasha very quickly. She wanted to run off up and down the aisles, or play with the trolley, or in the trolley, and it was becoming quite difficult for Chris to shop and keep her under control. As he made his way towards the checkouts, she started asking to go home and then became very particular about which checkout she wanted to go to - one which wasn't open (i.e. had no checkout assistant).

Chris did his best to manage this and try to keep her calm whilst scanning and paying for the shopping at another checkout, but it soon got to the point where Sasha was in full meltdown mode, and in his words 'everyone in the shop was quiet and staring'. not a lot of help was offered, but then to be fair, there's not much anyone can do in this situation, except maybe help pack the bags to be able to get out of there quicker! Certainly no point trying to talk to or hold Sasha - a stranger doing that would just make her worse.

A supermarket is a terrible nightmare for any child with sensory issues. Lots of people talking, walking in different directions, kids shouting and crying and running, neon lights buzzing, strong smells from fish and cheese counters etc etc. Chris is brave; I can't remember the last time I took Sasha with me to do a food shop. She doesn't need that kind of overload on the senses, and I don't need the added stress of not knowing if I'll make it to the checkout!!

My eldest daughter, Tamsin, witnessed her younger sister's meltdown yesterday, and was very patient and well behaved for Daddy despite having been hysterical about something silly herself only moments before; it's amazing how sobering a meltdown can be. As I thanked her at bedtime for being good, she commented to me that she wished she had what Sasha has, as it means Sasha can have fun doing the things she wants to. Whilst we have tried to explain in not too much detail to her how Sasha is (we say autism means Sasha was born with a brain which is different, which can't understand and learn everything that Tamsin's does), obviously this is a very difficult issue for her to understand. It brought a tear to my eye as I tried to gently explain to Tamsin that I really didn't think she would actually like to have what Sasha's got. The impact of ASD on Sasha's life to come is going to be huge, and I can only hope that Tamsin grows up to be one of the understanding ones. It would be nice if she can help her sister in some way, but at the same time I hope she lives her own life to the full.


  1. It's very hard on siblings. As Tamsin gets older, she'll witness many meltdowns, but she'll also witness the beautiful things too. She will amaze you with her maturity and compassion.

    1. Thanks. Am sure you're right :) Don't know why I didn't see all these comments before?!

  2. We struggle with this as well with siblings. It's hard on them seeing their brother "get away with things" and getting what they perceive as special treatment. Sigh.
    But we have also seen the girls do things for their brother that have left me slack jawed. Comfort him, help him, and protect him. I think Apples and Autobots summed up my feelings.

  3. Thanks for the encouraging comments. It's difficult to imagine them older, and the guilt of them not having 'normal' siblings will always be there, but you're right, they will hopefully turn out to be the best kind of people :)

  4. I've another meltdown post in preparation, just have to let it out, and like that there is a sibling involved. She's not talking to him now, but she will come round xx

  5. I read Scottish Mums post with a lump in my throat as I realised how difficult life must be sometimes. Her talking about how her child is getting big and does not understand his strength etc, all very eye opening.

    It sounds like your hubbie did really well and I am sure Tamsin will grow up to be very understanding. Having all these discussions at this early age will really help her, I am sure.

    Mich x

  6. This is where I think you should seek an occupational therapist. If it's my suggestion with supermarkets- go to them at a time when it is not super busy is one. Perhaps you can have her wear a hat in the supermarket.

    1. Thanks Bill. To be honest I mostly try to shop without the children!


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