Holiday shopping can be overwhelming for anyone, but for people on the autism spectrum who struggle with sensory overstimulation, large stores bustling with crowds and holiday music can be a nightmare. Which is why this idea is so cool: A Pennsylvania Target offers quiet shopping hours for people with autism during the holidays. As someone who is sort of (very) obsessed with Target, this story makes me happy. And it makes me feel a little bit better about spending way too much of my paycheck in Target’s home wares section. (Seriously, I can’t seem to stop buying gold lamps. I love them. I want them everywhere.)
Families affected by autism in Lancaster, PA will have the opportunity to do some low-stimulation shopping on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 6 to 8 a.m. The event isn’t currently a company-wide initiative, but rather the work of the employees at the Lancaster location. A Target spokesperson tells Bustle:
At Target, we are committed to creating an environment where our team members and guests feel welcome, valued and respected. As part of that commitment, we empower our store leaders to make decisions that help meet the needs of the guests they serve. The store leader of our Lancaster East store worked with his team and local community partners to create a welcoming shopping event for his guests on the autism spectrum and we applaud his efforts.
The spokesperson said that Target isn’t currently planning to hold such events in other locations, but the company is “always looking for new ways to further enhance our guests’ shopping experience.”
The CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children born in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. People on the autism spectrum often have sensory sensitivities, and too much sensation — too much noise, too much light, too many people, and so on — can be overwhelming and frightening. To make holiday shopping more accessible to adults with autism and parents who have children with autism, the Lancaster Target’s quiet shopping hours on Saturday will have dimmed lights, no music, and fewer staff members and shoppers present than usual. Parents will also receive free Starbucks, according to The Mighty. Target is holding the event in partnership with Wellspan Philhaven, a nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization offering services to families in central Pennsylvania.
Target’s quiet shopping event will be held at 2385 Covered Bridge Drive in Lancaster, PA on December 10, from 6 to 8 a.m.