Autism-friendly initiative at store

Asda Boston Service Colleagues Kirsten Henry (left) and Paula Griffin.
Asda Boston Service Colleagues Kirsten Henry (left) and Paula Griffin.

A supermarket in Boston has introduced a new type of shopping list designed to make visits to the store less stressful for autistic children.

The ‘Happy Little Helpers’ lists have arrived at Asda, in Lister Way, following a successful trial elsewhere in the chain.

They were created by Asda Middlesbrough colleague Jenny Barnett, whose five-year-old son Charlie has non-verbal autism.

The lists show a range of shopping choices such as milk, bread and bananas that the child can tick off once they have been added to the trolley. Jenny, 32, came up with the idea after seeing how Charlie’s school uses symbols and pictures to help him communicate.

After a successful trial in Middlesbrough, all Asda superstores and supercentres now have the shopping lists at their customer service desk for customers to collect at the start of their shop.

Though the activity was originally designed for children with autism, it’s available to all children.

Stephen Bromby, Asda Boston community champion, said: “Jenny’s Happy Little Helpers game is a fantastic idea that shows real innovation. We’re really pleased that we’re able to make the Happy Little Helpers available nationwide for more of our customers.”

The National Autistic Society’s Tom Purser said: “[The society] is always delighted to hear about shops and services making small changes to ensure their venue is as autism-friendly as possible.

“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.”