| Last updated
Doing the weekly big shop can be a nightmare at the best of times, but for those with autism - and the parents of autistic children - it can be even more trying.
A huge space full of bright lights, incessant noise and plenty of other shoppers can make life very difficult for kids with autism, so much so that Asda have launched an initiative that tries to make life a little bit easier for parents and children alike.
The Happy Little Helpers scheme turns shopping into a game, turning Mum's shopping list into a treasure hunt where the child attempts to find the correct items and put them into the shopping trolley.
It features a shopping list on a board, with velcro counters that stand in for things on the list, providing the perfect way of keeping little ones engaged and distracted.
Parents simply find the items that they want to buy and then lead the child around the supermarket to find them, awarding a reward counter for every one that they find. There's a scoreboard to keep a tally and an opportunity for the kid to earn themselves a treat too, extending the fun.
It was the brainchild of Jenny Barnett, a Middlesborough mum and Asda employee who had been struggling to take her autistic five-year old Charlie to the shops with her.
"I know how hard it is at times to go shopping with your children," she said. "When he was younger Charlie used to throw himself to the floor when he was in a big shop - it was clearly too noisy and too crowded for him."
"By creating the shopping list, it takes the pressure away and helps children concentrate on a task - which in turn reduces stress."
Asda will extend the initiative to 300 stores across the country and will be holding events to raise awareness of the new scheme until the end of the week. Happy Little Helper kits will be offered to parents to need a hand getting their kids around the supermarket on an ongoing basis thereafter.
"I'm over the moon that the Happy Little Helpers initiative is being introduced into more than 300 stores," Jenny added.
"It's such a nice feeling that I can walk into an Asda miles away from Middlesbrough and see another child benefiting from my idea - it's going to help so many children, which is great."
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read