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Grocery Store Tantrum

I stopped at a local grocery store for a few household staples. The plan was to make a quick run and grab my son from daycare after. As soon as I breezed through the second door, high notes greeted me. A few seconds later I realized it wasn't Mariah Carey playing overhead. I checked my pockets, grabbed a hand cart, and set on my way.


The tantrum continued as I moved through the isles. People were looking up and around as if the shelves suddenly became short enough to see over. I couldn't help but be a little annoyed at them. Quickening my pace, I filled my cart with my last few items.


Onto my new mission.


Our paths met in the freezer isle. Poor baby was still screaming and mom had a lot going on. I could feel all of her emotions as I approached them. Our eyes met with apologetic faces. Her son increased his intensity when I said hi. She explained his behavior as I chuckled. They were new to the area. Her son is 4 and is on the spectrum. He was SO mad because he couldnt eat the produce bags. I explained to her that I am an Autism Specialist and offered my help. We swapped our positions by her cart, I placed mine down, and emptied my pockets. My toolbox was a fidget spinner, a phone, and fidget blocks.


Now for the magic.


At this point, he hadn't taken a breath. He was going strong. No problem. I interrupted his symphony of one by playing the intro to Super Simple Songs. It looped 3 times before his ears recognized the jingle. I thanked him when he took a breath and said hi again. The crying slowed as his fingers extended towards my phone. I slipped it on my pocket while activating the lights of the fidget spinner with my other hand. Then I held both fidgets out. His cries were more like hiccups at this point. He held his gaze on the spinner so I slipped the blocks into my pocket. I let him spin it and press the buttons, but I held tight to the toy.


Sweet victory.


I turned to Mom and her smile was so beautiful! This is why I love what I do! We spent a good amount of time talking. I recommended keeping a couple of items her son prefers tucked away in her purse. I told her the key is to keep them away and present them only when shopping. I prefer the items be presented as soon as shopping begins. Waiting until a tantrum begins creates a behavior of being rewarded for the tantrum. The goal is to prevent the tantrum from happening.


So I lost a fidget spinner that day, but I gained a friend. Our sons have already enjoyed the park together.

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