One of the reasons it is difficult for me to write these posts is that very often, I have to deal with past, present, and the future of the topic I am writing about.  As I am writing, for instance,  about today’s shopping, my mind puts it in the context of the past experiences and old observations. At the same time as I am analyzing what has happened today I also plan the next step to address the issues that I have noticed. To make this post easier to write and, hopefully, clearer, I would try to artificially separate those parts entangled with each other.

1. In the past, most of my energy spent during shopping with Robert went toward keeping him seated in a shopping card, preventing him from escaping and running through the maze of the grocery or toy stores. (I did not dare to take him to department stores alone.) I wrote about the most memorable visit to the store and what followed in

2. For a long time I avoid buying articles of clothing with Robert. I mentioned such avoidance and the way we managed to temporarily address that issue in

3.  When Robert was already 17 or 18 years old and still reluctant to leave the store with a purchased shirt or pants, I decided to take Robert to Wal-Mart to buy a shirt. This particular store was across the street from Robert’s favorite (at that time) restaurant, Applebee’s. The restaurant was promised as a reward for buying shirt.  With a few reminders of a possibility of lunch in Applebee’s, Robert resolve not to buy a shirt melted.  We left the store with a shirt and went for a lunch.

4. Robert made a few purchases with his sister, Amanda, and with Mrs. Scott and Erin, his past and present skill instructors. That is important, as Robert often assumes that only one person should do a particular thing with him.

5. In 2011, Robert began to go shopping with his small class.  I observed Robert during one such trip and was very concerned. I thought that the way the teacher was directing Robert impeded any possibility of learning to be independent. Robert did not make one movement without being closely instructed.  He waited for the teacher to lead him to the item and  to point what he had to take. It was painful to watch as it was a regression from what Robert already could do with me.  At that time, I could wait in the end of the aisle while Robert went to fetch a particular item from the shelf in the middle or another end of that aisle.  I could follow a few steps behind him, as Robert went from place to place to  get items on his short shopping list.

6. I gave these suggestions to the teacher, during one of our meetings. I asked for behavioral specialists to write a task analysis, but I don’t think my suggestions were ever followed.  I don’t think any task analysis has been ever written or/and implemented.

7. The strange thing was, that instead of motivating me to work harder with Robert on shopping, this observation deflated my will to work with Robert on independent shopping. I never went to observe again, as I felt my presence was bothering the teacher.

8. This is an important observation.  I noticed that when I see the teachers working with Robert diligently I am very highly motivated to join in and support both Robert and his teachers.  When I see Robert being not taught properly, either by purposeful act or by lack of abilities on part of his educators I lose energy to teach.  I still do teach, but almost forcing myself to do so and with limited strength.  This is another negative result of educational neglect which plagues special education classrooms all over the country.

9. I remember that in 2006, for instance, while shopping in BIG Y, which became Robert favorite store since that time, I asked people bagging groceries, to let Robert do it by himself.  One purpose was to keep him occupied, the second was to let him learn.  I stopped doing that, when a person I asked became very upset.  Only then I realized that this was also a man with disability and his work was his pride I stepped on.

10. As I was going shopping with Robert this summer, we began to use self-check machines.  We mostly go to Stop and Shop, as the registers there are more client friendly than for instance in Shaw’s. (We might practice at Shaw’s at some point too, but not yet.) Robert became pretty skillful at finding bar codes and running them through.  He still needs prompts to push a right buttons when he finishes and/or pays with his card.

11. Upon one such shopping trip, I forgot that we bought fruits that needed weighing and entering a code.  To make matter worse, the code was invisible (red numbers, on a bag full of red cherries).  We had to call for assistance. That made me understand that I have to plan our trips much more diligently and do some preparation before such trip.

12. The things to work on:
a. Buying only items with clearly displayed bar code and working on attending to the direction on the screen.  how to begin and how to finish and pay.

2. Buying only a few items (three would be a good number to start with) which require entering the code and weighing the bag.

3.Buying only items that require entering the code and the number of items (when the price is for each item).

4. Whenever such opportunity arises, we will practice summoning help by pushing right buttons.

5. 6,7and more.    After  we go so far, we will work on mixing the three kinds of groceries together.

Of course, there is also a need for Robert to become more independent with shopping for his clothes. But that is a topic for another post.

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1 Comment

  1. Jean

     /  August 17, 2013

    Good progress with food shopping. Nolan resists clothing/shoe shopping, and anything that helps Robert may help him too.


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