Back-to-school shopping is a chore at the best of times, but it can be a particular ordeal for parents of kids with sensory processing disorders. The bright lights and chaotic vibe of most department stores have driven many of these parents to do their shopping online, but Walmart is currently offering a way for families to buy in person and avoid those triggers.
According to Walmart’s official release, select stores will be opening their doors from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. on Saturdays in July and August for sensory-friendly shopping with a modified environment. In districts where the school year starts after Labor Day, the special hours will begin July 22.
The big change that most sensitive kids will notice during these hours is the lack of in-store music. There will be no radio songs or announcements over the public address system, just silence. The overhead illumination will also be dimmed for those with light sensitivity, and television sets that normally play demo footage will instead display only static images.
The changes are intended to make it calmer for kids with special needs so that they (and their parents) can focus on checking off items on that school shopping list.
This is, of course, good news for parents or kids with sensory processing sensitivities, which may be a result of conditions like autism, attention deficit disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Parents can buy a lot of things online, but stocking up for school may mean picking up new shoes, clothes, backpacks and other items that children may need to see or try on before they buy. You can contact your local Walmart to see if they are participating.
Walmart has also announced that it is offering 14 of the most popular items for school at last year’s prices, so all families can also save a little money by buying products like notebooks, pencils and crayons for under $13 each.
In 2023, the company is also rolling out a classroom registry program where teachers can share their wish lists for key items. Search for your school here to see if your child’s teacher has any items on the list. You can also use the link to get started on your back-to-school shopping there on everything from Chromebooks to Kleenex.