The United Kingdom’s (U.K.) National Autistic Society is asking retailers around the country to institute “Autism Hour” this fall. Starting on October 2 and continuing for a week, participants will take steps to make shops friendlier for patrons with autism.
According to a statement in an article from The Independent on the effort:
“Research by the National Autistic Society suggests 64-percent of [people with autism] avoid going to the shops, and 28 percent have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism.”
Each day for the entire week, retail shops will host a quiet hour to help shoppers with autism feel less overwhelmed by sensory input. The quiet hours will also help raise awareness about why and how people with autism might react to sensory overload. During quiet hours, businesses will turn down—or off—music and other amplified sound, safely dim lighting, educate employees on positive interactions with people with autism, and share pamphlets with consumers on the National Autistic Society’s “Too Much Information” campaign about understanding autism.
U.K.-based shopping center owner, intu, supports the effort and is encouraging their shop owners to participate. Last year, international retailer Toys R Us instituted a similar program in stores in Britain with quiet hours around the holidays, and has already agreed to participate in the upcoming event.