[By Sarah Miskus]

Imagine you are walking through a dense crowd of people; bright lights are shining in your eyes, advertisements are everywhere, and the music is louder than your thoughts. Everyone knows that this is the reality of Christmas shopping. Most consider it a stressful chore at best.

But what is this experience like for someone with autism?

“Difficult…Overwhelming…A nightmare.”

These are just some of the words that parents use to describe their experiences shopping with their children with autism, especially during the holiday season.

This year, Toys “R” Us launched their ‘quiet hour’ pre-Christmas campaign across their British stores. Early in the morning, before the fast and frantic hustle of excitement and countdowns, parents and their children have the opportunity to go Christmas shopping in a calm and peaceful environment.

The quiet hour has been overwhelmingly successful, with only minor suggestions for improvement. Satisfied customers are asking for more quiet hours, and not just during the holiday season.  How Toys “R” Us will respond to this is not yet clear.

But this is about more than the campaign— Toys “R” Us has “stepped up” and set an example in the retail community.  By recognizing the need of their patrons, they have started a movement; they have demonstrated that businesses and corporations are responsible for adjusting to their consumers, not the other way around.

(Photo by David Porter via Flickr)