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The cool reason some Toys R Us stores will dim their lights and go quiet this weekend.

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.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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AMC Theaters/Youtube, Variety/Twitter

AMC announced that it would be implementing a new three-tier ticketing system.

AMC Theaters, America’s largest movie theater chain, announced on Feb 6 that it will be adopting different ticket prices based on seat location.

Moviegoers will have three tiers to choose from based on sightline of the movie screen—Preferred Sightline, set in the middle at the highest price point, Value Sightline, set in the front of the auditorium at the lowest price, and Standard Sightline, which is basically everything else (including the back seats, which are perhaps the most commonly picked) set at the traditional cost of a ticket.

In other words…heartbreak will feel more expensive in a place like this…or less, depending on where you sit



The company’s announcement was met with both criticism and approval. While some feel the move follows a well-established business model, others have found it to be taking away a valued aspect of the moviegoing experience.

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Photo by alevision.co on Unsplash/ @camerconstewart_uk/Instagram

"Sometimes it pays to learn a language!"

It feels safe to assume that if money were no object, people would always choose to travel business class over economy. After all, who doesn’t want a fast check-in, fancy food and drink choices and more of that sweet, spacious legroom?

However, at anywhere between four to ten times the price of a regular economy ticket, this style of traveling remains a fantasy for many who simply can’t afford it.

Luckily, thanks to one man’s clever travel hack, that fantasy might be more achievable than we realize.

Cameron Stewart, a British photojournalist and camera operator, recently shared how he was able to score business class tickets at a fraction of the price, simply by switching the website language from English to Spanish.
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via Pexels

A mother puts a fresh diaper on her baby.

Scientists at Penn State University have devised a “smart diaper” that alerts parents when their baby is wet. The diaper is made of paper, treated with sodium chloride (salt) and has a circuit board drawn with a pencil.

When the humidity level rises in the diaper, the graphite and the urine are absorbed by the paper and it turns on a sensor powered by a small lithium battery. The sensor then sets the alarm on an app that parents download onto their phones.

“The hydration sensor is highly sensitive to changes in humidity and provides accurate readings over a wide range of relative humidity levels, from 5.6% to 90%,” the researchers at Penn State said in a statement.

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Pop Culture

Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Pop Culture

Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

The “John Wick” star was his usual gracious self over the weekend when on Saturday, February 4, he and a friend walked into The Robin Hood pub in Tring, Hertfordshire, about 30 miles outside of London.

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