How your autistic child can benefit from souvenir shopping

 

Souvenir shopping with your autistic  child

 

Like most parents, I am always searching for new opportunities to  teach my autistic adolescent son useful life skills.I was delighted when I  realized that even the seemingly mundane hobby of souvenir collecting could  actually be beneficial to his maturity.


 Budgeting  and delayed gratification

 
By setting a budget on each day’s spending, I managed to avoid many  of the pitfalls that could have resulted in a  public meltdown. Allowing him to track  his purchases and figure out his remaining balance has made him more selective  in his shopping, and taught him the value of saving for more expensive items  (rather than wasting money on spur-of-the-moment tchotchkes). 


Creative  financial planning and negotiation skills

An unexpected consequence of curtailing his budget was a new desire to constructively stretch his limited funds; suddenly, he had the incentive to coupon shop and compare prices on the internet for future intended purchases. Moreover, while wetraveled, he would try to negotiate with street merchants, a valuable skill for any world traveler and consumer.

Carry what  you buy

Even after creating a financial plan for him, we soon faced a new  point of contention over his purchases. While technically he could buy any-sized  item within his means, we would still be forced to pack it and carry it home. As  such, the next logical step was to buy him his own backpack to fill with his  trinkets; the success in implementing this was two-fold, as not only did he  learn to buy smaller and fewer items (thus alleviating our stress in playing  souvenir to luggage Tetris*), but also led him to understand the importance of  weight and size in luggage.

Mastering  the art of packing

While allowing our son to purchase and carry his own souvenirs  solved some issues, we still had another to cope with—a matter of spatial  perception. We had to teach our son exactly how much he could fit into his  knapsack, and even more importantly, how fragile, easily-damaged items could be  damaged if placed incorrectly in the bag. After numerous meltdowns and a  limitless supply of patience, I am happy to report that our efforts were worth  it—today he has learnt to stay away from glass and porcelain figurines, bubble  wrap everything to prevent additional  scratches, and, best of all, access how much he can add to his bag for next  day’s purchases.

 Developing  Responsibility

 Perhaps the best consequence of our struggles is that our son  became much more respectful and appreciative of his belongings. Unlike before,  when mom and dad paid, packed, and carried his souvenirs and he did not care if  they got damaged or stolen by casual acquaintances, now he watches over them to  the point of obsession—even putting his prized possessions in the hotel/cruise  room vault for safe keeping.

*Tetris is a  video pluzzle game involves  different configurations of blocks falling down.  The concept is for the player to control the place they fall  onto and make sure they fit into each other   .

 

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