Toys R Us stages quiet hour in UK stores for children affected by autism

Children's toy retailer Toys R Us created a quiet hour at the weekend for children affected by autism, as well as their parents, carers and families.

Toys R Us stages quiet hour in UK stores
Toys R Us stages quiet hour in UK stores

The idea behind Toy R Us' quiet hour was to create an environment that better suits the needs of children with autism, who may find it difficult to cope with normal shopping environments, particularly in the busy run up to Christmas when shops are full of browsing customers. 

As part of the event, the toy shop made alterations to the shopping environment, making sure lights were dimmed, the number of fluorescent lights were reduced where possible, music and tannoy announcements were stopped and autism-friendly signage was utlised. 

The event originally began in 2014, when the Leeds branch of Toys R Us collaborated with Victoria Holdsworth Founder of local autism group, Autism friendly UK. Since then, the store has continued to work with autism groups across the country.

Mike Coogan, Toys R Us marketing and eCommerce director, said: "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. We understand toys are more personal to many additional needs individuals, so being able to relax and choose something special themselves and enjoy the facilities and content of the store, the same as other children can do without concerns, will help in making their Christmas truly magical."

Daniel Cadey, autism access manager for the National Autistic Society, said: "For many autistic people and their families a simple trip to the shops, which should be an enjoyable experience, can be fraught with difficulty. Autistic children and adults can become overwhelmed with too much information inside a busy store. Things like artificial lighting and loud tannoy announcements can increase their anxiety and be completely overwhelming, even causing them physical pain."

On 20 November, toy store Hamleys will stage a Regent Street take-over for second year running. In August, Crayola launched its centenary roadshow, using a double-decker bus which stopped off at retail sites across the UK. 

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