Trader Joe’s Partners with Life Skills App to Make Shopping Easier for Customers with Autism

Heading out to get groceries is a common errand that generally isn’t given a second thought. For many with autism, though, it can be a bit challenging due to the noises of other shoppers and the sensory stimuli from the store itself. One grocery chain is looking to ensure people on the spectrum have a more relaxed experience at their stores.

Trader Joe’s has just announced a partnership with the free MagnusCards app, which provides step-by-step visual guidance for everyday tasks, including taking the subway, going to the library, or cooking. The goal of the app is to make things less stressful for people with disabilities, including autism.

Trader Joe’s spokesperson Kenya Friend-Daniel says, “Creating a positive and inclusive shopping experience is our utmost priority, so we’re thrilled to be able to offer our customers this wonderful tool. It’s a tremendous opportunity to further support our customers and their caregivers.”


Trader Joe’s will have five card decks with visual cues and step-by-step instructions on various things customers encounter, including checking out and sensory experiences in the store. This is the first time a grocer has partnered with Toronto-based Magnusmode. Some other partners are McCarran International Airport, the MTA New York City Subway, a variety of public libraries, the New England Aquarium, and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Magnusmode is glad to add them to the team.

Company founder and president Nadia Hamilton says, “Grocery stores can be challenging places for individuals with autism, but the basic necessity of buying food and the simple pleasure of selecting what you plan to eat is vital for all people. Trader Joe’s MagnusCards provide support for a critical skill set that everyone needs and a fun experience that everyone deserves.”


The chain has more than 500 stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia, so the new addition will be available to shoppers all across the country.

Helping people on the spectrum with these daily tasks is personal for Hamilton. As a child, she helped her autistic brother Troy do every day activities like brushing his teeth. She used hand drawn pictures showing him each step in the process. She said once Troy graduated and went out into the world, he needed more than just those crayon sketches, and that was a theme she found in many families in her job as a support worker.

The company website says, “That’s when she decided to build Magnusmode, a company dedicated to removing the barriers that affect an individual’s ability to thrive in the world… What began with the love of a sister for her brother has grown into an accessibility movement powered by technology.”

She hopes the cards, which are a more advanced version of what she made for Troy, help change things for the better at home, in schools, and out in the community.

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