In October, the United Kingdom will be hosting its first nationwide "quiet hour" in shopping centers for those with autism. To raise awareness of autism, at least 14 shopping centers will partner together with the National Autistic Society’s awareness campaign for an entire week and will be turning down the music as well as the lights in shops and restaurants.
In doing this, services and shops will be giving people with autism a time- out from the sensory overload that many of them experience when shopping, and will also be handing out educational information on autism to patrons and employees.
Sixty-four percent of people with autism avoid going to shopping centers altogether and 28 percent have been asked to leave establishments for reasons relating to their "developmental disabilities," according to the Huffington Post UK.
U.K. resident Matt Davis is a father to a nine-year old boy that suffers from autism and highlights the toll everyday shopping can take on an autistic person and their family.
“Noise, lighting, and crowds are all triggers for Isaac so either we avoid shops altogether or we have to put in a great deal of preparation to ensure Isaac doesn’t become overwhelmed," Davis said. "Unfortunately, my wife and I find that the stress doesn’t stop with having to pay close attention to Isaac’s sensory overloads, we also have to take into account the public’s perception of Isaac’s behavior and that can be difficult.”
In the U.K., numerous retailers and other businesses have been conducting these quiet overs over the years to aid those with autism, but this is the first time that it will be national.
Retailers such as Clarks and Toys ‘R” Us will be taking part in the autism hour, and The National Autistic Society hopes that other big retailers will join the cause as well and create a space for a “more autism friendly world.”
Hopefully, this small gesture will have a huge impact, and we will see more of these quiet hours worldwide.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Jerzy Kociatkiewicz