SCALLY’S SuperValu in Clonakilty is once again leading a new autism initiative, as it has become the first supermarket in Cork to introduce the ALF (Autism Lifeskill Friend) shopping trolley.
The trolley was designed in Cork to make supermarket shopping a more enjoyable experience for a child with autism, while also giving them a lifeskill.
Since Scally’s embraced the project, four other SuperValu stores have come on board to support it.
This new initiative follows on from Scally’s introduction, in 2015, of an ‘autism friendly’ environment in the store every Tuesday between 7pm and 9pm where lights are dimmed and music and in-store announcements are turned off, in a bid to reduce the levels of sensory stimulation.
The concept of ALF was designed by Tony and Theresa O’Donovan from Togher who have a 16-year-old son with autism and they wanted something that would make shopping a more enjoyable experience for him.
‘The ALF is a normal looking shopping trolley with a clipboard attached and a ‘finished box’ attached to the frame. All the visuals required can be downloaded from Clipart, Boardmaker or Google images,’ Tony told The Southern Star.
‘The child can attach the required shopping items to the clipboard and then place the items in the Finished Box after each individual grocery item has been put in the trolley.’
Tony said the concept worked for their son when he was younger and so far the trolleys are in five SuperValu stores – in Carrigaline, Glanmire, Cobh, Clonakilty and Boyle in Co Roscommon.
Theresa pointed out that a visual schedule is highly important for children with autism. ‘They need to know what’s next, and by using this trolley and the images, they can see a beginning, a middle and an end, and this then reduces their anxiety within a supermarket environment,’ explained Theresa.
‘We are in the process of getting another 25 stores, and the stores that already have them all see the benefits. Leaflets will be going into each store to explain to parents how to use the trolley,’ said Tony, who has also patented the concept in Europe.
See ALF on Facebook for more.