Do you feel ever feel stressed or anxious when out shopping?
Does background music make it difficult to hear? Do the fluorescent lights overhead make you feel dizzy? Does the constant chirp or beep of the cash registers make you jump?
Did you know, there are now special events like “Quiet hour” or “Autism hour” happening across the world? These are some of the words being used to describe special periods of time that make shopping sensory-friendly. Supermarkets, grocery stores, retail locations, and shopping centers are creating a better shopping experience for people who find shopping too busy, too noisy or too bright.
A wonderful example is from the United Kingdom. From October 6, 2018, until October 13, 2018, “Autism hour”will be implemented in participating shops and businesses. They make a commitment turn down or turn off the in-store music and other noises, dim the fluorescent strip lighting and provide staff training on autism. The adjustments in the environment will make shopping easier for people with autism and their families. This initiative by the National Autistic Society had over 5000 retailers take part in the world’s first mass participation Autism Hour in 2017. People can use a map to find the stores that have “Autism Hour”.
Other stores in the UK have regular “Quiet hour”. For example, Morrisons, a chain supermarket, has a “quiet hour” from 9 am to 10 am every Saturday in 439 UK stores. They dim lights, turn the music off, and try to eliminate other noises like the beeps of cash registers.
After joining the first “Quiet Hour” took place on October 29. 2017, The Thistles shopping center in Scotland, has held regular “Quiet Hour” on the first Sunday of every month between 10 am – 11 am, as a long-term commitment.
Lakeside Village shopping center in the UK has also gone an extra step, the will provide a quiet room available for anyone who needs to step away from the hustle bustle of the shopping environment.
Toys “R” Us is noted to have autism friendly shopping times every Christmas in their many stores in North America.
In Australia, COLES supermarket has “Quiet Hour” every Tuesday from 10.30am to 11.30am. Regular, ongoing shopping hours like that make it easy for people to plan their routine on a weekly basis, to live a sensory friendly life.
Do you know of a sensory friendly shopping event? Tell us more in comments below and we will add it to our growing list.
Christel Seeberger has more than 25 years’ experience as an occupational therapist helping sensory-friendly seekers and providers. Christel is a sensory-friendly seeker herself; she has hearing loss. She founded Sensory Friendly Solutions to bring together the sensory-friendly community around the world and help people like you who are interested in sensory-friendly living.