An employee has worked with Asda to create a way to make shopping easier for autistic children. Asda has rolled out handy Happy Little Helpers shopping lists in more than 300 of their larger stores to make trips to the supermarket less stressful for autistic children.
The Happy Little Helpers shopping lists were created by Asda employee Jenny Barnett, whose five-year-old son Charlie has non-verbal autism, to keep children interested and engaged during their shopping trips.
Jenny’s colourful shopping list shows a range of shopping choices such as milk, bread and bananas that the child can tick off once they’ve been added to the trolley. She came up with the idea after seeing how Charlie’s school uses symbols and pictures to help him communicate.
The shopping lists were trialled in Asda’s Middlesbrough store, the store Jenny worked at, and now all Asda superstores and supercentres have ten Happy Little Helpers shopping lists at their customer service desk for customers to collect at the start of their shop.
Jenny says: “I’m over the moon that this has been rolled out to hundreds of Asda stores – I’m chuffed to bits.
“It’s such a nice feeling that I can walk into an Asda miles away from Middlesbrough and see another child benefitting from my idea – it’s going to help so many children which is great.
“Customers and colleagues have said to me it’s a great idea. It just shows that colleagues should always come forward with ideas – you never know what’s going to happen.”
Though the activity was originally designed for children with autism, it’s available to all children. The board also has a clip so it can be easily fastened to a trolley during a shop.
Between 11-17 September, Asda will be holding awareness events featuring information boards to launch the initiative in the participating stores.
Sital Mistry from Asda’s community team said: “Jenny’s Happy Little Helpers game is a fantastic idea that shows real innovation. We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to make the Happy Little Helpers available nationwide for more of our customers.”
“The National Autistic Society is always delighted to hear about shops and services making small changes to ensure their venue is as autism friendly as possible,” said the charity’s head of campaigns and public engagement, Tom Purser. “Supermarkets can often be a very overwhelming place for people on the autism spectrum and Jenny’s visual shopping list idea is a great way to help reduce the overload and make shopping a more pleasant experience for autistic children and their families.
“Asda’s initiative is a great example of an organisation taking the trouble to understand how autistic children and adults experience the world and we hope other retailers are inspired to follow their example.”