Talk about being the mother of all inventions!

By Hollee Actman Becker
September 09, 2016
sensory checkout
Credit: Kristin Jackowski/Facebook

As anyone who's ever hit the checkout line with a kid in tow can tell you, shopping with a young child ain't so easy. Do you know how many times I gave in and bought all the candy bars and gum and Tic Tacs while waiting for the cashier to ring me up? Yeah, well, me neither... but I probably lost count somewhere around a billion.

I won't even pretend to understand how distressing this same situation would be for a child on the autism spectrum. But Philadelphia mom-of-three Kristin Jackowski knows only too well. NavyAnna, her 5-year-old daughter, is on the spectrum and has sensory-overload issues—which makes the checkout line a pretty big nightmare thanks to the plethora of sweets available and within arm's reach.

"She has low impulse control," Jackowski explained to Philadelphia magazine. "And so the candy in the checkout lane, she's constantly grabbing at it and she has a meltdown when we don't give it to her."

Other parents may have simply given up. But not this revolutionary mother of invention who instead decided to take initiative and start a petition in order to encourage Target and other retailers to create autism-friendly checkout lines.


And while the Bullseye has yet to respond—what are you waiting for, guys?—a ShopRite store in Delaware County didn't hesitate to boldly step up and quickly replace all the candy in a specially-marked lane with sensory-friendly items like Play-Doh, rattles, and small puzzles.

"I just merchandised the aisle correctly with sensory-friendly objects, no candy whatsoever," store director Paul Kourits told Philly mag. "We're happy to do it. I have 18 checkouts at the store. If I lose one for a good cause, that's perfectly OK."

It doesn't look like that's going to happen, though, because Kourtis says his customers are already going crazy over the new twist on checkout. "Even if you don't have a child who is autistic, everybody knows a child who is," he explained. "People think it's a great idea. Anything to provide our customers with a safe and friendly shopping experience, I say let's do it."

Fist bumps all around!

Meanwhile, Kristin shared on Facebook that she and the rest of #teamnavy, are "bubbling with excitement" over the incredible show of support, and it's now her hope that other large retailers will soon follow ShopRite's lead in paving the way for such important change.

"I really hope we can take this thing all they way," she wrote. "I have a good feeling about it!"

I bet that's what Ben Franklin said, too.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website for more, and then follow her on Twitter at@holleewoodworld