Asda autism shopping list game gets nationwide store roll-out after worker created it for her son

An Asda worker has seen a child friendly game she created to make shopping easier for her autistic son being launched across 300 stores.

Jenny Barnett, 32, came up with the idea of ‘Happy Little Helpers’ to keep five-year-old Charlie interested during shopping trips after seeing how his school communicated with him.

The school communication happens with symbols and pictures – so Jenny designed and created a shopping list using symbols of groceries that the child can tick off once they’ve been added to the trolley.

Children can use the Velcro-backed symbols to help their parents shop, making it easier for them to ignore distractions and ensure a calmer, stress-free shopping trip.

Shopping and food in the news

The roll-out came following huge success at the Middlesborough store where Jenny has worked for eight years.

She said: “I’m over the moon that this has been rolled out to hundreds of Asda stores – I’m chuffed to bits.

“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.

“Customers and colleagues have said to me it’s a great idea.

“It just shows that colleagues should always come forward with ideas – you never know what’s going to happen.”

Jenny added: “I know how hard it is to go into a shop and be a mum with a child who is throwing a tantrum and throwing themselves on the floor.

“By creating the shopping list, it takes the pressure away and helps children concentrate on a task which in turn reduces stress.

“I’m absolutely delighted that the ‘Happy Little Helpers’ initiative is being rolled out to more than 300 stores, it makes me very proud and if it can help just one mum, dad or child then the whole thing will be worth it.”

Charlie has non-verbal autism

A spokesperson for the National Autistic Society said: We are always delighted to hear about shops and services making small changes to ensure their venue is as autism friendly as possible.

“Supermarkets can often be a very overwhelming place for people on the autism spectrum and Jenny’s visual shopping list idea is a great way to help reduce the overload and make shopping a more pleasant experience for autistic children and their families.

“Asda’s initiative is a great example of an organisation taking the trouble to understand how autistic children and adults experience the world and we hope other retailers are inspired to follow their example.”

Happy Little Helpers scheme shopping list

In-store community champions will be holding awareness events featuring information boards for parents and ‘Happy Little Helpers’ packs between September 11-17.

All Asda superstores and supercentres now have 10 ‘Happy Little Helpers’ shopping lists at their customer service desk for customers to collect at the start of their shop.

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