The National Autistic Society runs a campaign called Autism Hour to encourage shops to create autism friendly shopping times. During a week in October, shops and businesses sign up to dim their lights, turn off the music and reduce the noise to help create a quiet, calm atmosphere for autistic shoppers. Although the campaign runs during one week, businesses across the UK can use it as an opportunity to understand how they can better support autistic customers all the time.
The National Autistic Society ran a survey after their campaign week and found that 93% of respondents would be more likely to go to a shop that is running an Autism Hour on a regular basis. This is overwhelming evidence that Autism Hours have a positive impact, and many businesses find a few small changes are easy to do.
At Share, we’ve taken steps to ensure that our environment supports those with autism and we’re proud to be Autism Accredited by the National Autistic Society. We teach independent living skills and regularly make trips to local stores with our students, many of whom have autism. We’re pleased to say that many stores and organisations are welcoming, patient and friendly but there’s a lot more that can be done. We’re passionate about making public spaces more accessible for those with autism or learning disabilities for whom shopping can be an overwhelming experience, especially at Christmas.
We’d like to invite local stores to get in touch. Please contact Annie McDowall at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in finding out how to ensure your store caters for the needs of autistic shoppers. You can also find more information on the National Autistic Society website.