Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How grocery stores accommodate families with differently-abled children

Having a child with a mobile impairment can make shopping almost impossible. I admit that I would do most of my shopping when my daughter was at school or during her many different therapies.  It was just too hard to push her wheelchair with one hand and pull a shopping cart with the other.  I also did not like not being able to see and talk to her when I am pushing her wheelchair.  I want to see the reaction on her face as we are shopping (she has Rett syndrome and is non-verbal). This is why I am so excited our local grocery store has Caroline's Carts.  What is a Caroline Cart you might ask.  It is a shopping cart specially designed for children with disabilities.

My daughter is just like any other girl, she loves to go shopping.  She is a people watcher and loves to look at the people as they walk.  I know what she wants because she tells me with her eyes.  I know she wants to pick out some of the food we buy but lately she has not had the chance.  I want to share the experience of shopping with my daughter, but before today I had no choice.

Now, thanks to our local grocery store H.E.B. I have a choice to bring my daughter shopping with me.  H.E.B. now offers it's differently-abled shoppers Caroline's Cart.  H.E.B make shopping with my daughter even easier for me because I am able to reserve a Caroline's Cart.  All I have to do it call up the store and reserve a time that's best for me and my daughter (you can also show up and ask for it, but I do not want to take the chance that the carts are not available).  When I get to the H.E.B. store, I call and let them know were I am parked.  For an added convenience they bring the cart out to my car. The Caroline's Cart handles swing out so I can transfer her safely (no more getting the wheelchair out and struggling as I am putting it together).   Caroline's Cart has a three point harness system so I feel she is safe sitting in the cart.  I am able to shop to my hearts desire while looking and talking to her throughout the store.  If I want to stop the cart it also has a break to keep the cart in place so it does not move.  When I am ready to check out, an employee always comes and helps me unload my groceries.  After I pay for my groceries they will walk me out to my car.  They unload my groceries into my car while I am getting my daughter settled into her car seat. Finally they take the cart back to the store so I do not have to leave my child unattended. I am not sure how other groceries store do it, but my H.E.B know how to make my groceries shopping experience memorable.

My hope is that more and more retail stores will show the special needs community they care by providing a Caroline's cart for a great shopping experience.

At this time not all H.E.B grocery stores have Caroline's Cart, so please call and ask.  As of now there are four H.E.B. grocery stores in the Central Texas area that have Caroline's Cart:

H.E.B at Muller in Austin
H.E.B. at Burnet in Austin  
H.E.B at East White Stone in Cedar park 
H.E.B. at Coppers Cove 

If you would like to learn more about Caroline's carts click here.