Mom petitions for autism-friendly checkouts... and gets them

(Facebook/Kristin Jackowski)

This week was a big win for Pennsylvania mother of three, Kristin Jackowski.

While shopping at her local ShopRite, she noticed something different at the checkout lines: sensory checkouts.

Earlier this month, Jackowski started a petition on Change.org, asking stores for sensory-friendly checkout lanes. As a mother to a 5-year-old on the spectrum, checking out while shopping had become a bit of a nightmare due to the overload of sugary stimulation at store exit points.

“Once the candy, chocolate, and other snacks are within arm’s reach, the meltdown is inevitable. Not a temper tantrum, a meltdown, and yes there is a difference!” she says in her letter, which she directed at mass retailer Target.

Aside from having to deal with the meltdown, Jackowski explained that she also faced judgement from other shoppers who would stare, make comments or roll their eyes at her. Her letter was a request for these lanes be made sensory-friendly (and snack-free) with tools parents could actually use.

“Putty, stress balls, bubbles, these things are not just toys but can help a child refocus and stay calm in overwhelming situations. It gives the family a choice and helps alleviate the difficulty of a simple shopping trip. It would also bring awareness and enlightenment to the employees working at these chains that you can’t always see a disability and patience is necessary!”

While she did end up catching Target’s attention with the petition — she’s already met the manager at her local store branch — news of her petition also reached another retailer, ShopRite, who took her concerns to heart.

“I am overjoyed to announce that our petition has been heard at ShopRite in Brookhaven in Deleware County!” Jackowski writes in a Facebook post.

“My childhood friend Dawn Marie shared my ideas with her longtime love/boyfriend Paul Kourtis whom is the director and he took it to the Burns family. They are the proud owners of this ShopRite and they have implemented a handicap accessible and sensory friend checkout lane at their store!”

“They said it will be a permanent fixture at this location and we can’t thank the Burns family enough, such wonderful people to support this cause!”

(Facebook/Kristin Jackowski)

As suggested, the sensory-friendly aisle has been filled with useful items like crayons, wet wipes, puzzles and colouring books.

“I’m like over the moon and sobbing like a maniac,” Jackowski said in an interview with Philadelphia. “It’s a great example, and I hope other companies follow suit.”

As for ShopRite, they’ve already received positive feedback from the aisles.

“They’re going crazy for it,” ShopRite’s store director Paul Kourtis,  store director says. “Even if you don’t have a child who is autistic, everybody knows a child who is. 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.”

What do you think of these sensory-free checkout lanes? Let us know by tweeting to @YahooStyleCA