News 9 - July 24, 2023 6:28 am

Going to the store can be difficult for families with sensory-sensitive children. That’s why Walmart is making temporary changes to help with back-to-school shopping.

The company launched its sensory-friendly shopping hours and during these hours, stores will dim the lights, turn off the music, and freeze the TV screens.

Autism Oklahoma director Stacey Weddington said many kids look forward to back-to-school shopping, but those with sensory sensitivities don’t usually get to enjoy picking out their own supplies.

“They don’t get to have that experience. They don’t get to go with their parents or their friends and pick out their own fruit and their own snacks and their own colored pencils. So providing this opportunity, truly, is a gift,” Weddington said.

She said many people can take a trip to the store for granted, but for many families with sensory-sensitive children, it’s a much larger obstacle. “You’ve got people that are really just sucking it up and putting on all their strength and all their courage, and going in because they know, we may go in fine, but we may come out horrible,” she said.

Parents who usually shop online are excited to use these hours to teach their kids how to shop for groceries.

“We have a lot of our families that I’ve spoken to over the week and they said you know, we’ve just had to go shopping on the app, pulling up, popping our trunk,” Weddington said. “But they said we’re missing some fun family time, engagement time and education time.”

Walmart says it aims to create a more inclusive and accessible shopping experience for children and families.

Weddington hopes the company is a trendsetter for others, and applauds it for stepping up to meet the need.

“People see needs all the time, but for them to take that and then turn that into an accommodation for the one in thirty-six people on the autism spectrum, speaks highly of them as a global company,” she said.

The sensory-friendly shopping hours are held every Saturday from 8 to 10 a.m. at every Walmart until the end of August.


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