Caroline’s Cart: Shopping Made Easier For Kids With Special Needs

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs  over at AutismWonderland.

Before I was a mom and before my son, Norrin, was diagnosed with autism I used to side eye the mothers who had their ‘too big’ kids stuffed into the seat of a shopping cart. I thought the kids were lazy and assumed the moms had no control. Now I know better.

I remember what it was like shopping with Norrin when he was younger and first diagnosed with autism. If I were with my husband, it was easier. If I was by myself, I’d either hoist him up and squeeze him into the shopping cart seat (knowing he had exceeded the limit) or struggle while shopping, holding his hand and navigating crowded store aisles.

Even now, at eight years old, we hold Norrin’s hand or stay close by. And those few seconds if/when he runs away and out of sight and I’m yelling his name scanning the aisles, are agonizing. I wish he could still fit in a shopping cart seat so that  I can run in and out without me having a heartache or him a meltdown.

The moment I saw Caroline’s Cart in my Facebook feed, I knew how important it was for special needs families. The cart was specifically “created for special needs children. It provides parents and caregivers a viable option to transport a child through a store while grocery shopping, without simultaneously having to maneuver a wheelchair and a traditional grocery cart.

Some of the features of Caroline’s Cart includes:

  • The seat back has a five degree tilt for increased comfort for low muscle tone children
  • The seat faces the caregiver, so eye contact is easy to maintain, children with anxiety issues can watch the parent during the shopping trip, and children prone to seizures can be monitored
  • The platform below the seat provides a footrest for the child
  • An abductor in the seat helps keep the child upright
  • A harness helps to secure the child so parents have hands free to steer the cart and shop

While Norrin doesn’t require the use of a wheelchair, we could still benefit from Caroline’s Cart. Sometimes shopping can be overwhelming for kids with autism. Stores are sensory overload – people talking, kids crying, loud speakers crackling, shopping carts banging into displays. Caroline’s Cart would be especially helpful while at check out. It can be difficult to keep an eye on Norrin while I’m  trying to unload my purchases and pay.

I haven’t seen Caroline’s Cart in any of my local stores, but I’ll be looking. And I want you to look too. If you don’t see it and you need it, don’t be scared to make a call or send an email. Because it never hurts to just ask. It worked for this mom, it could work for you.

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image: screen shot Caroline’s Cart

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