As any parent can tell you, shopping with kids is rarely a walk in the park. Sometimes it feels as though stores intentionally make the experience as stressful as possible! From piles of colorful balls at the end of every aisle to shelves full of stuffed animals to sugary treats beckoning at the checkout counter, it’s as though the entire shopping experience is built to be a sensory overload. This is especially true around the holidays, when stores take marketing to the next level and kids are on candy-cane benders.
Shopping becomes even more complicated when you have a child with a developmental challenge, like autism, that needs to be taken into account. Luckily, some stores are thinking ahead. As Scary Mommy reports, some Toys”R”Us locations in the United Kingdom are having a “quiet hour” on Nov. 6 so children with varying needs can better enjoy a holiday shopping trip.
The participating stores plan to dim the lights, turn down the music and make other accommodations to ensure that kids don’t feel as inundated by stimuli during the shopping trip. For children with autism or sensory processing disorders, going shopping can be very triggering. The music is loud and often frenetic, the lights are incredibly bright and the loudspeaker crackles with announcements at unexpected times. This can cause children with special needs to feel frightened, overwhelmed and downright upset. This can mean a breakdown is inevitable, one that could mar the entire day and make kids not to want to go shopping again for a long time.
Aside from online shopping (thanks goodness for that), sometimes you want to be able to run into a store and grab a few things quickly—especially around the holidays. Not to mention, it’s also great to get parents AND kids out of the house from time to time. While this can be a challenge with kids, period, it’s even more the case with a special needs child.
Kudos to Toys”R”Us for this inclusive move. We hope this becomes a trend stateside soon! For other tips on how to help kids with autism enjoy holiday shopping, check out this helpful list.
Photo by JeepersMedia