As a child, going to Toys R Us was always an exciting day out with my parents. A place filled with toys from all my favourite TV shows and comic book heroes. From Pokémon to Yu-Gi-OH, bikes and Lego, the local Toys R Us had it all. With all the happy and excited kids and music in the store, however, it could be a very loud and overwhelming experience for some children. For some children with special needs, the experience is simply too much, and until now it has been impossible for them to shop there for all their favourite toys, along with many other stores. On Sunday 6th November, however, Toys R Us opened its doors to a much quieter store than usual, giving autistic children, who struggle with loud noises, the chance to shop for toys without being altogether overwhelmed.
Toys R Us stores nationwide opened an hour earlier than usual for a ‘quiet hour’ aimed at helping children who have autism have a more comfortable shopping experience. As well as a ban on shop announcements and music, all the participating stores were fitted with dimmer fluorescent lights as well, to try to help accommodate children with autism. The event had been held for the last two years in the Toys R Us store in Leeds, but the annual event before Christmas has now been expanded nationwide to all the Toys R Us stores. The fact that the event has spread at such a rapid rate is testament to how much demand there is for these kind of shopping days in the UK.
Autism affects over 700,000 children in the UK, and this event provides an invaluable opportunity for adults with autistic kids to get their kids’ Christmas shopping done in a much less stressful environment for the child. It is hoped by many parents with children who suffer from autism, that this event will help set other stores into motion in helping accommodate children with special needs. As of now there is little to no events or initiatives provided by stores in helping to get children with autism shopping in their stores. Toys R Us’ marketing director, Mike Coogan, had a lot of pride in the chains adoption of the scheme. He said, “holding such events has given our teams extreme pride in reaching out to autism groups within their community, making slight adjustments to stores and creating a ‘quiet’ shopping period allows children and young adults to experience the fun in a toy shop regardless of their disability”. Hopefully, having an event like this receive such widespread praise will lead to other stores across the UK employing measures to make shopping a little easier for children with autism.
Social media erupted in praise of the day, with many thankful parents taking to social media to express their gratitude to Toys R Us. With autism being a condition that affects so many people, both children and parents, it’s not surprising to see so much widespread praise of the company taking the initiative and making Christmas shopping a little easier for parents and children alike.