Practise beforehand

It’s a good idea to role play with the person what to do if he/she gets lost, making sure they know where to find and how to present their identification card and what to say.

Keep to a timetable

When shopping, we explain to Zeb in advance exactly what the itinerary is and when the visit to the particular shop he wants will occur. Be firm and stick to this and the constant nagging should stop. As long as they know when it is happening an aspergic child can relax.

Give me a role too

We try to give Laurie a focus when we go out - shopping is better when we give her a task - she has her own shopping list or we make a game of it and get her to find certain items.

Visual shopping list

If you use a visual timetable and want to make one for when you go shopping, go to the Tesco online site (probably works for other supermarkets too) and right-click, then save image. It gives a small easy to use image that is exactly what you will be shopping for.

Photo your visual timetable

If you use a visual timetable but can't take it out with you. Use your phone and take a photo of it.

Call ahead

When you are going to places like the hairdressers, dentists, doctors, theatres, restaurants, let them know ahead of any issues and work together. Be prepared and let them be prepared too. Makes a more enjoyable time for everyone involved.

Keep warm

If you are caring for someone in a wheelchair or pushchair who won't keep a blanket on in the cold weather, put long johns or even girls tights on under their trousers.

Changing places rooms

Changing Places rooms are fantastic when you're out and about. They include Closomat toilets, full hoist, electronic beds, moveable sink. See the map for Changing Places rooms. 

Handy Blu Tack

Carry a small piece of Blu Tack or similar for someone who is fidgety and needs to touch and play with something. They can make little men and characters or just roll it in their fingers.

Portable DVD player

Eating out is really difficult for my son, who is sound sensitive and has food issues. We take a portable DVD player. Thought other people would think us terrible parents, but pleasantly surprised people complimented us on our boys' behaviour and remarked what a great idea a portable DVD player was.

Mobile distraction

My son has lots of behavioural issues, especially waiting, getting back into the car when a favourite activity has ended, hospital appointments and so on. I have recorded myself on my mobile reading his favourite stories. I have also put some nursery rhymes and theme tunes on there. I always have my mobile with me (remembering the earphones of course), and it's got us through some very sticky situations. It's a great distraction, and allows me to get where I need to go.

Bendy straws are handy

Sue finds it comforting to twirl objects in a new situation, so I keep some bendy drinking straws in her handbag for trips.

Fidget toys

Keep a handbag full of fidget toys for those times when you’re going somewhere new or waiting in a queue. is a good source for this.

Snap it

I always find it really helpful when I am going to a place for the first time with Jason to take a photo first so he knows where he is going. You can use the camera in your mobile phone!

Cue cards

If you use visual cues to communicate - have small versions of the pictures laminated and attached to a belt ring so that "toilet" "stop" "drink" signs or whatever is most important to the child is readily and quickly available. You can then take them out when shopping...

Radar key

Get a radar key. These cost just a few pounds and are usually available from town halls and tourist information centres. They save us from queuing at public toilets, and are often cleaner and of course more spacious.

Clean change

Changing pads on older kids can be challenging. They are too big for change units and the floors are too dirty to lay them on. I take a plastic tablecloth out to lay on a dirty floor and just wipe clean afterwards – it’s small and portable.

Powder carriers

Joanna needs a powder diet supplement added to her bottles, which I put in a baby formula container with separate compartments, so if we are out for the day I don’t have to take the whole drum with me.

Healthy snacks for out and about

When we are out and about (at the hairdressers or shopping) a good way to keep Amy occupied is to keep a supply of Shreddies (or similar) breakfast cereal (diet permitting of course) and hand them out one by one. Not quite as bad as sweets or crisps.


My son can't cope with standing in line in queues. I always go to the front of the queue and asked nicely if we could come to the front. Nobody ever minds when I do and it isn't fair to him to make him queue.

Straw case

My son can only drink from a straw. Out and about I use a toothbrush case to keep them clean and uncrushed.

Large changing mats

These can be very expensive to buy. Try a waterproof picnic blanket instead, much cheaper and easy to keep clean.

Transporting meds

If we are going to be out of the house when my son's evening meds are due, instead of taking the bottles with us, we measure the meds out in a syringe and pop them in one of his old glasses cases to transport them (it holds 2 syringes perfectly!)

Portable blender

Breville make a cordless blender, ideal for charging at home and then using while out and about. It comes with a lid to keep blades and your bag clean.

Early bird shopping

If shopping for clothes/shoes is a nightmare, try asking the manager if they'll open the store 15 minutes earlier to allow you to try things on without an audience. Our local Clarks suggested it when our son was freaking out due to the noise of all the people in the shop.

Awareness wristbands

Amazon sell great Autism awareness wristbands. A subtle way of reminding the public of "our life!" I wear one all the time when I am out with "Mr Noisy". He will not wear one himself but working on it.

Hand sized MP3 player

Our son loves music and stories. We have found a cheap Mp3 player like the August MB100P MP3 Player allows us to have a few on hand charged up. They do get lost/broken but are worth it for the overall benefits.

Teddy bear carrier

Build a Bear sell teddy carriers, which look a bit like rucksacks the teddies sit in. Kids who use wheelchairs can put one on the wrong way, so the bear is held against their chest and can be cuddled without being dropped.

Phone/iPod holder

Amazon sell phone/iPod holders that are designed for windscreens, but are also great for sticking on wheelchair trays.

Hot food and drinks

Food is a vital source of energy and helps keep your body warm. Make sure the person you are caring for has regular hot meals and drinks throughout the day. I always take a flask of hot chocolate or tea with us when we’re out and about on cold days.

Exercise mat

Specialist changing mats are pricey and often too thin for my 8 year old son who has severe cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user. I bought a Reebok exercise mat (£15). It is thickly padded, waterproof and is easy to wipe clean. It folds in 3 sections, is lightweight and has a handy strap that fits neatly over the wheelchair handles.

Happy stuff

I carry teddy bears around with me if I worry going out with people, or I'm feeling sad, worried or angry and it helps me stay happy. Photo books, toys, teddy bears for me.

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Using these tips

These tips have been contributed by members of our online community. We hope they will give you some ideas to try, but if you need further help why not post a question to the community or talk to one of our community advisors. If you have any concerns about your health or the wellbeing of someone you are caring for, please consult a doctor or qualified professional.

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