Body & Fitness

Supermarket trials ‘quiet hour’ for those with autism

For kids and adults with autism, a supermarket can be a frightening, overwhelming place.

A supermarket in the UK is trying out a new scheme they hope will help people with autism.

Tesco supermarket in Crawley, West Sussex, are trialling ‘quiet hour’ on Saturday mornings between 9 and 10, that aim to help people with autism have a more pleasant shopping experience.

During the hour, the automatic doors will stay open, lights will be dimmed, no tannoy announcements with take place and staff will not stack shelves.

All of this is aimed at helping parents of those with autism get their weekly shop done without the upset this often causes.

Jo-Ann D’Costa Manuel started the campaign to get the quiet hour put in place, after struggling with her eight-year-old son who has autism.

Autism Parent Empower has teamed up with Tesco for the quiet hour

“Tesco shopping was always an impossible experience for us due to the sensory overload and lack on public awareness. With lots of visits, strategies and support we now can enjoy our weekly shopping trip with ease,” she writes.

“Creating public Autism Awareness is also at the core of this service. Please find below some of the changes you may notice during the Autism Quiet Hour. Thank you for your understanding and support.”

Jo-Ann is also the director of Autism Parent Empower, and quotes that many parents feel isolated during supermarket shops, due to the lack of understanding about sensory discomforts.

For this reason, staff at the store will also be trained about awareness of autism, and how they can help streamline the shop.

Spokesperson for New Zealand’s Children’s Autism Foundation praised the move by the supermarket giant.

“Tesco’s decision to introduce a ‘quiet hour’ once a week shows understanding and consideration for the challenges people with autism may face. It shows that they are willing to put themselves in a person with autism shoes and respect the sensory issues that can be prevalent.

“Sensitivities to bright lights, loud noises and crowds are real and an understanding of this is very welcomed.”

Likewise, Autism New Zealand Chief Executive, Dane Dougan, said:

“We’re starting to see more and more initiatives like this, at home and abroad. Having a quiet hour in New Zealand supermarkets would be a welcome move and one we would definitely encourage. Shopping can be an extremely stressful and noisy experience for autism sufferers and this could make things a lot more pleasant for everyone involved.”

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