Stores such as The Entertainer have committed to regular Autism Hours throughout the year since joining the campaign.
The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour has partnered with The Entertainer to launch Autism Hour 2019. Together they are encouraging other shops and businesses in the UK to hold Autism Hours from the 5th to 12th October.
There are approximately 700,000 autistic people in the UK, alongside 3m family members and carers. The National Autistic Society’s survey revealed that 64% of autistic people avoid shops and 28% have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism. Since the launch of the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour in 2017, 16,000 shops and businesses have joined the campaign and more than 38,000 autism friendly hours have taken place.
Autism Hour involves shops and businesses turning down the in-store music, as overwhelming noise is a common barrier to autistic people accessing shops. It also involves dimming lighting, particularly fluorescent strip lighting which can be overwhelming.
The final step is helping the public understand autism. During the week, The National Autistic Society will ask participating shops and business to spread awareness about autism with its customers.
“Autistic people represent a huge part of our society – around 1 in 100 people in the UK,” National Autistic Society head of campaigns Tom Purser said. “They and their families want to have the opportunity to go to the shops, just like anyone else. But many find the crowds, noise and unpredictability of our high streets completely overwhelming and end up avoiding them altogether.”
The Entertainer executive chairman Gary Grant added: “We hope that by supporting Autism Hour, in addition to running our own Quiet Hour initiative, more families will feel confident when it comes to shopping with us.”