Recently, a Target store located in Lancaster, PA, has been opening its doors early once a week to provide its customers with a quieter time to shop.
Unless you have autism yourself, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to accomplish everything you need to on a daily life.
What exactly does it feel like to have autism?
"It feels awful," says Lori Sealy, who has autism and writes about it, helps to educate people about the condition. "Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch (the five senses that all of the experiences of life must pass through) can be absolutely harrowing and horrifying to a person with autism. Everything that enters the (Autism Spectrum Disorder) body is often accompanied by some semblance of pain or at least by some extremely uncomfortable sensation."
Just because you have autism or any other condition, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to get out every day and do your shopping and pay your bills. There is a lot you can accomplish online, but being able to go out and buy what you need from a department store in a safe and quiet environment is a huge advantage.
This isn’t just a good practice for businesses to get into, it’s good business. The Target store opens from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. each Saturday. They lower the lighting, keep all the store activities to a minimum and don’t play any music throughout the store. They want to try and provide people on the autism spectrum with a safe place where they can relax and shop without feeling added stresses.
This isn’t at every Target, yet, but is an option which store managers can choose to participate in or not at their own discretion. Other retailers around the world are also choosing to implement similar strategies to help those with autism. Toys R Us in the United Kingdom have a similar strategy in place, while AMC theaters offer its patrons a sensory-friendly screening choice.
It's not an original thought. Toys R Us stores in the U.K. have offered a similar service to their customers for the past few years, and the chain plans to do the same in certain U.S. stores too. Jet Blue has a program to help autistic people prepare for their first flights in advance.