A TROLLEY aimed at making shopping easier for children with autism has been designed by a Cork couple.
The ALF (autism lifeskill friend) trolley designed by Tony and Teresa O’Donovan from Togher is now in four SuperValu stores in Cork – in Cobh, Glanmire, Carrigaline and Clonakilty. It is also available in SuperValu in Boyle, Co Roscommon.
Mr O’Donovan said that the trolley will shortly be available in 21 other SuperValu outlets across the country.
He said the aim of the trolley is to help make shopping as stress-free as possible for autistic children and their parents.
He explained that the trolley has a clipboard attached to it. Families wishing to use the trolleys must download images of the foods they need to buy and laminate them, before attaching double-sided Velcro tape to them. The images can then be pasted onto the clipboard of the trolley.
Mr O’Donovan explained that there is also a box attached to the trolley, with the word “finished” inside in it.
He added that children with autism can feel more in control when they are partaking in the shopping experience and can take off each image and put it in the “finished” box when the item has been located and placed in the trolley.
Mr O’Donovan said the trolley is also suitable for children who may have a preference for words instead of images.
The O’Donovans came up with the idea because their teenage son has autism.
Mr O’Donovan said that supermarkets can be over-stimulated areas for children with autism, making it very difficult for them to go shopping.
Manager of Garveys SuperValu in Cobh, John Kiely, said the trolley is being used every day in the Cobh store. He said it puts power back into the hands of families of children with autism.
The trolley is being rolled out in supermarkets following the recent introduction in some stores of autism-friendly shopping events, where music and announcements are turned off and lights are dimmed.
And a Bandon hairdressing salon, Hairline, are providing autism-friendly hairdressing appointments on specific days. The next one is on February 6 from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.
An autism service dog who is in training from My Canine Companion will be in the salon to assist clients with autism.
* For more autism-friendly events in Cork, visit the Autism Friendly Shopping Cork page on Facebook.