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Pennsylvania Target to Host Autism-Friendly Holiday Shopping Hours

Image Source: Mike Mozart/Flickr
Image Source: Mike Mozart/Flickr

Having a son with autism and ADHD, shopping anywhere can be challenging. However during the holiday season, shopping is like a sensory overload — on steroids. But one Pennsylvania Target is looking to make shopping a little bit easier for people with autism by creating a sensory-friendly environment that puts them at ease and makes shopping at Target even better (if you can even imagine that).

I know I’m not alone in saying that Target is one of my favorite places to shop. But during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s actually one of the main places I try to avoid, especially with my 10-year-old son, Norrin.

I know that shopping isn’t always easy for Norrin, but I didn’t realize how difficult it was until I saw a video of what it feels like to have autism. (If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check it out.) And that’s just one more reason why I love that Target is recognizing the needs of so many families by providing quiet shopping hours; and I sure hope it becomes a thing at more Targets across the nation.

Here’s the plan: On December 10, the store will be open extra-early, from 6 AM to 8 AM. Creating a sensory-friendly environment includes dimming the lights, turning off the music, and reducing the number of employees on the sales floor. It also provides parents the opportunity to shop in a judgement-free environment.

For some parents going shopping with their child and risking a meltdown is enough to keep them home. Trust me, public meltdowns are no fun. Strangers stare, silently judging parent and child.  Being surrounded by other individuals who get it, makes shopping less stressful. It creates a sense of community.

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While the quiet shopping hours will only be at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania location (which, by the way, HUGE PROPS to the team members for working this out), I have hope that more initiatives will continue to increase.

After all, it’s not the first time Target has accommodated the needs of the community. Earlier this year, stores began providing Caroline’s Carts — a shopping cart specifically designed for children with special needs. During Halloween, one of their commercials featured a young girl in a wheelchair. And Target also allows transgendered individuals to use a restroom and/or fitting room which corresponds with their gender identity.

Time and time again, Target has shown us that it’s clearly a brand that values all of its customers, and strives to make their experience inclusive, accessible, and enjoyable.

I see you Target — and I’m more than happy to give you all of my money.

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