Major retailers have made accommodations this holiday season for shoppers with children with autism.
Some Toys R Us stores and a Target have offered "quiet hours" for shoppers, which feature dimmer lighting and no in-store music or announcements and include quiet zones.
“Simple changes like this can make a huge difference,” Daniel Cadey, autism access manager for the National Autistic Society, told The Telegraph. “For many autistic people and their families a simple trip to the shops, which should be an enjoyable experience, can be fraught with difficulty. Autistic children and adults can become overwhelmed with too much information inside a busy store.”
Toys R Us stores in the U.K. have offered the low-key shopping experience for three years; a similar move is planned for stores this year in the U.S.
“We’re working on a plan to test these types of opportunities on a local level -- pairing our stores with local organizations to create an event for kids with special needs and their families, and will also assess opportunities to scale it nationally,” Toys R Us officials told KIVI-TV.
The King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, store hosted a "quiet hours" event for about 30 families recently, according to CNN.
That’s where Adam Moser, 10, was able to pick out what he wanted: a bed shaped like a red Jeep.
"With the phones ringing and waiting in the crowded customer service line, we would not have been able to stand there for the 15 minutes to order the bed,” Linda Moser, his mother, told CNN.
If parents are not able to find a store with the sensory-friendly shopping available near them, Toys R Us has worked with the National Lekotek Center for 20 years to create the “Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids,” which allows parents to buy toys their children are unable to try out first.
A Target in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, also created a calmer environment for shoppers Saturday.
“The store leader of our Lancaster East store worked with his team and local community partners to create a welcoming shopping event for his guests on the autism spectrum and we applaud his efforts,” Target officials told The Mighty. “We don’t have plans to roll these events out company-wide, but are always looking for new ways to further enhance our guests’ shopping experience.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.