Here's something you probably don't need me reminding of: Malls are a lot to handle during the holidays.

Long lines, ferocious bargain shoppers, road rage in overcrowded parking lots — you know the drill.

If you have autism, though, a bustling shopping center can be an exhausting experience in an entirely different sense.


Illustration courtesy of The National Autistic Society.

Many people who have autism have varying degrees of sensory input issues. They may be over- or undersensitive to the sights, smells, and noises around them.

As you can imagine, going to the mall on a day like Black Friday is basically out of the question.

"For many autistic people and their families, a simple trip to the shops, which should be an enjoyable experience, can be fraught with difficulty," Daniel Cadey of the U.K.'s National Autistic Society said in a statement. "Autistic children and adults can become overwhelmed with too much information inside a busy store."

That's why, on Nov. 6, 2016, several Toys R Us stores in the U.K. will hold a quiet hour of shopping for kids who have autism and their parents.

Many slight adjustments will go into effect to make the shopping experience more comfy and calm, such as dim lights, a reduction of overhead fluorescents, and no in-store music or announcements over the loud speaker.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

"We understand toys are more personal to many additional needs individuals," said Mike Coogan, marketing and e-commerce director at Toys R Us, reports The Independent. "So being able to relax and choose something special themselves and enjoy the facilities and content of the store, the same as other children can do without concerns, will help in making their Christmas truly magical."

"Me and my son and daughter will be there," one woman wrote on the Facebook event page. "My son is 20 months old with autism. What a lovely thing to do."

Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.

Shopping can be very taxing for someone with autism and their loved ones — even beyond sensory overload itself.

Autism isn't visible. So when someone is overwhelmed by their environment, it can seem as though they're acting out or misbehaving.

"My son had a meltdown in a shopping center after becoming overloaded by the crowds, bright lights, and smells," explained Jo Wincup, a mom whose son, Ben, has autism.

People stared, as though Ben had been acting naughty. Some even said hurtful things to her.

"I just wanted to cry," Wincup said. "For the ground to swallow us up."

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

If you want to be a helpful ally to moms like Wincup, it's probably smart to learn more about autism and how it may affect others. That way, instead of jumping to conclusions the next time you're out in public, you may be able to lend a helping hand or offer a kind word of support at a stressful moment.

Sure, holiday shopping is a lot, but it's also a big part of the season.

So it's important retailers — and each and every one of us — do our parts in making sure everyone feels loved and included.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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