Tuesday, July 23, 2024

‘Sensory friendly is going to improve their experience’: Shoppers welcome sensory-friendly hours at Walmart stores

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Walmart Canada introduced sensory-friendly hours at all 403 locations across the country this week.


On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, there will be no music or P.A. announcements and lights will be dimmed from opening until 10:00 a.m. 


Sensory sensitivity is common in people with disabilities like autism. 


“Sensory-friendly hours is a way to invite them in, to spend time in our stores and browse our aisles in a calm, shopping environment,” Lina Nadar, the manager of the accessibility program at Walmart Canada, told CTV News Ottawa.


“It’s really part of our commitment as Walmart Canada to create a more accessible and inclusive shopping experience for everyone.”


Autism is not limited to one age group but can be more challenging for parents with autistic children.


Sabrina Brodofski lives just outside of Brockville, Ont. and has an eight-year-old son and six-year-old son, and both have autism. 


Last week, she took her oldest, Ethan, to Walmart for some shopping. They went to the bathroom and an announcement came over the P.A. system, which disturbed Ethan.


“Ethan was trying to cover his ears and had a bit of a meltdown because it was just echoing in the washroom,” she explained.


“Going shopping is usually a disaster when any shopping place that we go to, it’s loud, it’s bright. There’s lots of people.”


Brodofski says Walmart’s new initiative will make a big difference.


“Having it where it’s sensory friendly is going to improve their experience,” she told CTV News. “It’s going to improve my experience. Hopefully keep them a little bit calmer, which means I can then get in, focus on shopping and then get out, which makes things a lot more enjoyable.”

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