Sensory-friendly hours and accommodations expanding

Virus Outbreak School Funding Mental Health
Posted at 2:30 PM, Aug 11, 2023

Sensory-friendly hours and other accommodations are expanding for people with neurodivergent conditions.

Walmart is the latest big name to add those hours which are from 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. on Saturdays in most stores through August.

“For a company as large as Walmart to go ahead and make this move does start to shift the dynamics of our culture, which is in a positive more inclusive direction,” said Danielle Heaton.

Heaton is tracking what other stores are doing through the nonprofit Twenty-One Senses.

Its database currently has just under 500 listings nationwide.

The nonprofit is pushing for more companies to join.

“An average sensory-friendly offering typically will include reducing the lighting options, reducing some of the background noises and sounds and sometimes will also include reducing capacity in a facility,” said Heaton.

But she says that’s just the start of what is needed.

“Awareness of the need and education that’s evidence-based is really the next steps because empathy is really the biggest need that’s out there. Understanding what someone’s going through makes so much more difference than anyone realizes,” said Heaton.

She says that can mean something as simple as smiling at a parent who has a child who is struggling rather than giving them a harsh glance.

You can search the list of sensory-friendly hours and accommodations for all stores in your area here.

If you don’t see what you need, Heaton recommends asking the management at the business and letting them know those accommodations are something you’re interested in.

She also recommends checking out an area beforehand without your child to figure out when may be the less busy times to visit that business.