Autism is a mental disorder that is often characterized by impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as troubles with social interactions. Autism can usually be detected by parents within the first few years of a child’s life, but the schedule at which these signs may show themselves is not fixed.
The number of people being diagnosed with some form of autism has been climbing over the past few decades and currently, there is believed to be around 22 Million people on the planet who are affected by autism. And with this rise in the prevalence of this disorder, the autism rights movement has done a lot to increase the education and awareness and disorder. However, there is still much more work to be done.
But one place that is doing amazing things for the autistic community is a supermarket in Philadelphia. What this supermarket is doing is that they have altered one of their checkout lines. But this isn’t any alteration, it is an alteration to help parents of children that have autism.
The store is a ShopRite location in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania that only opened a few weeks ago. And even though the story is fairly brand new, they are already making positive changes and listening to the public, by creating a sensory friendly checkout line, that will help parents with autistic children.
This story began about a week or so ago when Kristin Jackowski (the mother of an autistic daughter) started a petition that was asking Target to create an autism-friendly checkout line in their stores. After the idea and petition gained some traction, Target responded to it but said that such large changes like that would take some serious planning and a lot of work.
But after hearing about the idea, Paul Kourtis (the store director of the ShopRite in Brookhaven, was able to transform one of his checkout lines into a sensory friendly one in only a matter of a few days. And even though he made the changes, Kourtis had admitted that he really didn’t know what the big deal was at first. But after some research and looking into it, he realized the multitude of issues that parents with autistic children can deal with at the grocery store.
The changes that Kourtis made at the checkout included replacing the candy in that checkout line with puzzles and play-doh, which was already a big help for the parents. All it took was merchandising the aisle a little bit differently, and it has already helped parents significantly.
The store added an autism puzzle piece symbol above the altered checkout line, and people have already begun to identify and use the line for its cause. Kourtis has also said that the store plans to educate its employees about autism. When Jackowski found out about the change, she was ecstatic. She says she can’t wait to use it and she hopes other companies follow suit and make their stores and locations from autism-friendly.