The Entertainer, a large toy retailer has announced it will be doing quiet hours in all its stores to help parents and families of children with Special Needs.

It’s not an unusual concept, with ASDA, Toys’R’Us and other retailers rolling out similar schemes to help their customers who have additional needs. However, when toy shopping with kids, it can be a sensory overload, and overwhelming for Child and Adult.

The quiet hour isn’t only a ploy to get more people through its doors but is actually genuinely put in place to make those who struggle with overloads to have a calm environment.

During the Quiet Hour, music will be turned off, and loud demos will also be silenced, making the experience a more comfortable one for the kids and their parents. This quiet hour will also be a good time for parents to get their shopping in a much calmer and relaxed way, as opposed to it being like an obstacle course that even an SAS Soldier would struggle with.

Although there are plenty of stores offering Quiet Hours, there is one problem, and that is they are always the first hour of the day, meaning that you have to make a concerted effort to get there for it, and as a lot of people live quite far away from some stores, that means they have to get up a lot  earlier, and set off earlier, while holding a quiet hour for the last hour of trading would be a more appropriate time for all involved.

The thing with ASD, is no 2 cases are the same, and no 2 kids are the same and they’ll react very differently to different situations. The same with ADHD. While one kid could go into a meltdown at sensory overload, another could simply feel uncomfortable, but not have a meltdown.

Retailers, especially the supermarkets should all offer a couple of quiet hours a day. Not only for the sake of the staff who’ve had to listen to the same CD on repeat for the last 8 hours, but also for adult shoppers who have additional needs.

It’s bad enough shopping anyway, with all the different products, packaging, flashing lights and kids who think the fresh bread sticks are actually lightsabres, without having music blared out. It’s more a problem around Christmas, because there seems to only be one album of Christmas songs, and if I have to listen to ‘All I want for Christmas’ and Mariah Carey’s screaming a top A, I think I’ll have a meltdown too! I go shopping to buy groceries, not to walk into a rave.

There are plenty of things we can do to help those with additional needs. Some independent hair salons offer to not use hair driers on certain special days for such clients, and one I used to work in had a separate salon for anyone that needed a more solitary experience.

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