ST. LOUIS — Walmart is bringing back sensory-friendly hours to make shopping more inclusive. They will be available every day at all Walmart U.S. and Puerto Rico stores, starting on November 10, with no end date in sight. They go from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. local time.
“We love being part of a team that can help create a culture where everyone feels they belong. Belonging looks different for each person, but when we listen and value everyone’s perspectives, thoughtful change can happen,” states Walmart.
Earlier this year, Walmart made changes to create a calmer shopping environment. During back-to-school season, they turned off the radio, switched TV walls to static images, and dimmed the lights where possible. The retailer says that the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Autism Oklahoma released this statement when the stories tested the sensory-friendly hours earlier this year.
“Between the sounds, crowds, and smells, a simple outing for school supplies or groceries can trigger sensory overload and a difficult meltdown,” stated Founder and Executive Director Melinda Lauffenburger.
Public places can overwhelm children and adults with autism. This can lead families to avoid outings. There are some preemptive strategies for calmer shopping experiences. They require time, patience, and, ideally, guidance from a skilled behavioral therapist.