This week shops have been taking part in the Autism Hour which was set up by the National Autistic Society. This is an hour where lights are dimmed, the music is turned down or switched off, information is shared and staff on on hand to help customers understand all about Autism.
Going to a shopping centre can be an ordeal for someone with Autism, it's loud, busy and the lighting can be too bright in some shops. Those people who are on the spectrum will have different opinions about this as it affects people in different ways. For some, no amount of light dimming or quietness will make much difference, there will be other aspects of the shopping experience that will make it difficult for them them to take part.
In a survey 64% of people with autism and their families would rather not go out shopping because of the various factors that make it difficult. A lot of these result in a massive sensory overload. We have seen how this can affect someone in the video the NAS put out a while ago involving Alex, a young boy with Autism and how he would feel as he walked around a shopping centre.
I know I don't like big busy shopping centres but for me it's the people, there are too many and I don't like having to dodge out the way and weave in and out, it's too much. I only like to go shopping if I know what I am going for, get it and then come home or I home shop most of the time. Internet shopping has become a delight for those who find it hard to shop. I particularly like online shopping at Christmas because I just can't stand it becoming even more busier, there's no where to park, it's cold and basically Christmas is for staying at home with a hot chocolate and a good movie and I don't have a diagnosis. My son is the same though, he knows where he wants to go, knows what he wants then that's it, job done, lets go now. If we stay too long he gets very anxious.
There is still time to shop within the Autism Hour this weekend. There are still shops taking part on Sunday. If you need to find out which shops are taking part, head over to the NAS website at www.autism.org.uk
If you are in the Derby area here is a list of some of the Derby stores taking part:
Clarks - Everyday 2nd-8th October during their first hour of opening
Toys R Us Wyvern Way- 8th October 10am
Intu Derby- 2nd October 10am
Sainsbury’s- 2nd October 10am
Superdrug Westfield Centre- 8th October 11am
Lloyds Bank, Iron Gate, St Peters Street- 2nd October 10am
Supergrug Corn Market- 8th October 11am
Virgin Money, Corn Market 2nd October 9am
Halifax, East Street- 2nd October 10am
Pets at Home, Kingsway - 8th October 9.30am
Pets at Home, Meteor- 8th October 9.30am
Even though it is just an hour it is raising that awareness which is important. For a lot of people it's not an enjoyable experience whether you have Autism or not, it's a chore but if we can relieve a bit of stress and anxiety for those who struggle then it has to be a good thing. I hope it continues and it's something that becomes more permanent especially if it helps.
I'd love to know whether anyone has been to shop in one of these hours and have you found it helpful? Is it a waste of time and not helped at all? Are the day/times suitable? Let me know by leaving a comment here or on my Facebook page. The NAS are bound to want a bit of feedback so lets let them know.
Thank you for reading today, please pop back tomorrow for my chit chat about TV which is called 'Pass the Remote'.
Until then take care........
Every Saturday I will be talking about Autism and will review any useful information which may have been highlighted at any support groups in the week.