A supermarket in Pennsylvania is the first retailer in the U.S. to install an autistic-friendly checkout lane. The unique service is the brainchild of a mother with an autistic 5-year-old daughter.
How it Happened
Kristin Jackowski had come to dread the checkout part of shopping trips because of the ever-present candy and gum displays near the cash registers. The noise of the cash registers and other customers coupled with the flashy labels of the candy and gum displays would send her daughter into sensory overload.
Speaking of her daughter, Jackowski said that she “has low impulse control and is constantly grabbing at the candy in the checkout lane. She then has a meltdown when we do not let her have it.”
The meltdowns invariably lead to rolling eyes and stares from other customers, unaware of the young girl’s condition.
The Spark of an Idea
Sensing that other parents with autistic children encountered the same challenges, Jackowski decided to reach out to retail giant Target to tweak just one of their checkout lanes with sensory-friendly items and even a cashier educated about autism.
While Target said that the change would require an order from their corporate headquarters, Paul Kourtis, head of Pennsylvania ShopRite, heard about Jackowski’s idea and took it upon himself to become more educated about autism.
With his newfound knowledge, he realized that he could definitely implement the idea of an autistic-friendly checkout at his Brookhaven location.
“It was easy to do,” he said. “We merely merchandized the aisle with sensory-friendly objects.”
Candy, sodas and other junk food was replaced with items like small puzzles, rattles and Play-Doh.
The Fitzgerald Law Firm: Fighting For and Protecting the Rights of Autistic Children
It’s falsely assumed by many that autism affects children in a uniform or singular way. While it may be difficult for those without autism to understand, those with the condition react to various stimuli in different ways.
If your child has been diagnosed with autism, we invite you to call The Fitzgerald Law Firm for a free consultation to talk about your legal options.
Our number is 800-323-9900.