Back in May, the Manchester branch of Asda, one of Britian’s largest supermarket chains, introduced an early morning “quiet hour” of shopping for customers with autism. At 8 a.m., the store turned off its music, electronics displays, and escalators in order to create a more peaceful shopping environment for customers who are prone to over-stimulation or anxiety. The program was an immediate success, with other branches quickly following suit. Now, Toys “R” Us is endeavoring to make the most wonderful time of the year a comfortable experience for all shoppers. According to The Telegraph, several UK outposts of the behemoth toy store chain will hold a “quiet hour” of holiday shopping on the morning of Sunday, November 6.
In addition to making the experience music- and announcement-free, the stores will also dim their lights and reduce the amount of fluorescent lighting being aimed at patrons. According to the Autism Society, approximately 1 percent of the world’s population lives with an autism spectrum disorder; since 2000, the number of children affected by it has increased by nearly 120 percent. In the U.S. alone, more than 3.5 million people are afflicted, which makes gaining a deeper understanding of what it’s like to live with the disorder so important.
“We’re delighted that Toys ‘R’ Us is again showing the way by hosting an autism-friendly shopping event in every Toys ‘R’ Us store in the lead up to Christmas,” said Daniel Cadey, autism access manager for the UK’s National Autistic Society. “Simple changes like this can make a huge difference to the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and to their families, and we hope that many more major retailers will follow the great example set by Toys ‘R’ Us.”
[h/t: The Telegraph]