top of page

4 grocery store perils for Autistic shoppers (here's how to cope)

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Grocery stores are notorious as one of the most overwhelming places for the neurodivergent community, Autistics included. While you likely have thought about it before, it's helpful to consider reasons why grocery stores are so difficult to navigate, and what can be done to make this necessary evil more manageable.

Total sensory overload

Grocery stores are a prime example of flooding the senses. They play their music so loud, it's practically Coachella. Their fluorescent lights burn brighter than the desert sun. You're weaving your way around people who are driving metal cages with squeaky wheels. Each individual component is difficult enough to deal with on its own, but a grocery store tosses them all together like a summer salad kit (except it's not delicious).

Fortunately, Our Coaches can help you develop and practice sensory coping strategies, like always bringing sunglasses and ear plugs.

There are no easy decisions

While it is important to have choices, grocery stores have so many options that it can be overwhelming when figuring out what to buy. It's like, when you know you need to buy bananas, but how many bananas will you eat this week? How green are they? Wait, did you end up in the organic section again?

A typical grocery list is a good start, but one that's tailored to Autistic needs plus a Coach who'll help you use it is winning combination!

Internal signals complicate things

Let's say you forgot to eat a snack before you left home because you can't always tell when you're getting hungry. Now you're feeling famished, but you're surrounded by food you're unable to eat. This is when you are susceptible to making an additional purchase. You know you have cookies at home, but your eyes keep wandering back to the baked good section, thinking about eating a cookie (or even a second cookie) in the car to satiate your hunger.

Working with a Coach to build a pre-grocery routine can make all the difference here--especially when that routine includes eating a snack before you leave the house.

Adjusting to the unexpected

Unfortunately, sometimes even the best laid plans can go awry. You may walk into a familiar store, only to realize that their entire layout changed since your last trip. When you're Autistic, trying to reorient your surroundings drains your executive functioning. Other times, you may search all over for a specific food from a specific brand, only to learn that the brand discontinued their product. Now, you're settling for the generic shredded wheats when

you're craving the Minis.

Coping with this kind of on-the-fly mental effort is a complicated skill, but our Coaches have the experience and knowledge to help you master it.

If struggles like these sound familiar for you or someone you know, contact us to learn how our team of Coaches can help. Grocery shopping may be a necessary evil, but we can help you learn to make it more bearable.

190 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page