It’s 20:48, you’ve only just got off the Overground after an Odyssean style journey into the remote hinterland of Zone 4 for a dinner party. You’re in the only shop for miles faced with a wall of bottles and cans of Ting. Do you go for the £5 Chardonnay? the price tag is enticing…
Or do you go for the Riesling? It’s in a long, thin bottle and has a cork so you know it’s good. Riesling or Chardonnay? Chardonnay or Riesling? The options go round and round in your head. But after 30 seconds you pick up the Riesling, pay for it with your contactless (you’ll worry about it in three days) and you’re out the door.
For people with autism however, this sequence of events and the environment they happen in can leave them feeling overloaded and even cause meltdowns. When these happen in public spaces they can often lead to unwarranted judgement from the public. Noise, lighting and crowds are all triggers for Autistic people, with shops in particular being hotbeds for meltdowns and social anxiety. Recent research by the National Autistic Society revealed that 64% of autistic people are unable to go to the shops due to feeling overwhelmed, which results in 79% feeling socially isolated.
This is why, with help from Don’t Panic, The National Autistic Society are introducing The Autism Hour in shops across the UK. The most ambitious project ever attempted to help people with autism will start in October with some of the biggest retailers in the UK turning down music, reducing tannoy announcements and dimming lights to help create calming and less daunting environments. From Lloyds to Toys R Us and all the Intu shopping centres between, Autism Hour covers the length and breadth of the country and a variety of businesses.
The groundbreaking initiative marks another milestone in Don’t Panic’s partnership with NAS as part of the flagship Too Much Information Campaign to raise nationwide awareness of the impact autistic people’s condition has on their day-to-day lives.
This helpful map shows where and when shops will be taking part, making planning a trip a less stressful experience.
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