For autistic people every day experiences such as trips to the shops can be challenging which is why the National Autistic Society is asking everyone to do their bit and help.
October 5th marked the start of Autism Hour which runs over the course of the week until Saturday 12th.
Shops and businesses are asked to dim their lights and reduce noise to help create a calmer atmosphere for autistic shoppers.
The campaign is being sponsored by The Entertainer for the second year. The toy shop chain holds autism hours every Saturday to make the experience less overwhelming.
There are more than 700,000 autistic people in the UK but only 16 per cent feel the public understand them. Last year, more than 11,000 businesses including The Entertainer, Argos, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s took part in the National Autism Society’s autism hour campaign, taking the first steps to create autism friendly communities in the UK.
Why not ask your local shops to join in? The NAS website has a prepared letter you can hand to local retailers asking them to take part and explaining what’s involved.
There are two key parts to autism hour:
Make adjustments to the shop so it is less overwhelming, turn down any music and other background noise and dim the lights if it is safe to do so
Share information about autism with staff
Autism Hour can make a real difference but many businesses go further by holding the hours every week or month.
Among those extending this commitment is Reading’s Oracle shopping centre which last week launched a weekly ‘quiet hour’ to make shopping accessible for all.
The Quiet Hour will take place between 9.30am and 10.30am every Tuesday when the new initiative will see ambient lighting, music and tannoy announcements either turned off or down to a minimum to ensure the centre is accessible to all shoppers in Reading.
Andy Briggs, general manager at The Oracle, said: “At The Oracle we pride ourselves in offering a fantastic shopping and leisure experience for everyone.
“We strive to offer a safe and comfortable space for friends and family to shop, connect and have fun and the introduction of our weekly Quiet Hour is just another step in our ongoing efforts to ensure a great experience for all.”