Toys ‘R’ Us are to hold an autism-friendly browsing event for families affected by autism and additional needs.

The event will take place from 10-11am on the morning of Sunday 6 November and will offer the opportunity for families to enjoy an hour of browsing, discovering Christmas gift ideas, and experience an everyday environment that may not always be easy for children affected by autism to cope with under normal conditions. Families will have the store exclusive to them for that hour.

Every Toys ‘R’ Us will alter conditions within the store, including having the lights slightly dimmed, fluorescent lighting reduced where possible, music and Tannoy announcements will be switched off during the event, autism-friendly signage will be utilised to offer a more calming influence and a quiet zone will be available should the need arise.

The original event in 2014 was initiated by Toys ‘R’ Us Leeds in collaboration with Victoria Holdsworth, Founder of local autism group – Autism friendly UK. Since then Toys’R’Us has worked with further autism groups across the country, including fund raising activities for the National Autistic Society.

Daniel Cadey, autism access manager for the National Autistic Society, said: “For many autistic people and their families a simple trip to the shops, which should be an enjoyable experience, can be fraught with difficulty.

“Autistic children and adults can become overwhelmed with too much information inside a busy store. Things like artificial lighting and loud tannoy announcements can increase their anxiety and be completely overwhelming, even causing them physical pain.

“So we are delighted that Toys R Us is again showing the way by hosting an autism friendly shopping event in every Toys ‘R’ Us store in the lead up to Christmas. Staff who understand autism will be on hand to help, and the lighting and amplified sound levels will be reduced to lessen the impact on autistic customers. Simple changes like this can make a huge difference to the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and to their families. We hope that many more major retailers will follow the great example set by Toys R Us.”

The Stores will open 1 hour prior to official store opening times. Due to Sunday Trading legislation, Toys ‘R’ Us stores in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are unable to perform any sales transactions, process any Direct purchases or complete any returns until the official store opening time at 11am (England & Wales) or 1pm (Northern Ireland).

This may cause concerns to some families whose children may struggle with the patience of waiting between choosing their items and being able to pay for them due to Sunday Trading laws. Any parents, who wish to return later that morning to pay for shopping, will be offered this opportunity. Scottish stores will be able to carry out transaction straight away.