Supermarket introduces ‘quiet hour’ for people with autism

A supermarket has joined other national retailers in offering a weekly “quiet hour” for autistic children and adults who may find the sights and sounds of a busy shop overwhelming.

Morrisons said it would take action across all 439 of its UK stores in making its shops more accessible for people on the spectrum.

It is believed to be the first supermarket to offer the service in all of its UK outlets.

It follows a call earlier this year by charity the National Autistic Society asking businesses to adapt their surroundings for just one hour, in hoping that it will become a regular occurrence.

According to NAS, more than 5,000 retailers took part in Autism Hour last year after research found that 79 per cent of autistic people feel socially isolated and 64 per cent of autistic people avoid going to the shops.

During Autism Hour, retailers have been asked to turn down music and other noise, dim the lights, share information about autism with employees and help the public better understand the needs of an individual with autism.

Commenting on Morrisons’ recent announcement, Tom Purser, Head of Campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: “Around 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK. This means they see, hear and feel the world differently to other people, often in a more intense way, which can make shopping a real struggle.

“At the National Autistic Society we know that even small changes can make a big difference to the lives of autistic people and their families. Shops can help by lowering lighting and noise levels and giving staff training about autism.

“Morrisons’ Quieter Hour is a step in the right direction for autistic people and their families, making shopping more autism-friendly.”

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