FOLLOWING on from the hugely successful launch in 2017, shops and businesses at intu Lakeside will once again support the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour week.
intu Lakeside is one of 14 intu shopping centres up and down the country working with the charity on the week-long event (starting on 6 October) providing autistic people with a break from the usual overload of ‘too much information’.
Every retailer, restaurant and leisure operator is being asked to observe ‘quiet hours’ by dimming their lights, turning down music and other background noise for an hour at 10am each day.
Staff at intu Lakeside already receive training to provide autism-aware customer service and customer guides are available to help autistic customers and their families plan a visit to the centre.
intu Lakeside will be hosting a ‘quiet hour’ on Monday 8 October, 4pm – 5pm. With National Autistic Society Thurrock in centre on Tuesday 9 October, 10am – 2pm who will be giving customers the chance to try a virtual reality experience created by the National Autistic Society showing what an autistic person can experience in a shopping centre.
Howard Oldstein, regional centre director at intu Lakeside said: “We will be asking every shop, restaurant and leisure attraction in our centre to dim their lights and reduce their music for an hour and to raise awareness of autism among their staff and customers. We hope that by supporting the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour at intu Lakeside we will be able to encourage many more businesses to take these simple steps and make life easier for the estimated 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their families.
“We want to put a smile on the face of everyone who visits an intu centre and this means training our staff, supporting our customers and working with brands in the centre as well as organisations like the National Autistic Society to provide a welcoming and accessible experience for all.”
A survey by The National Autistic Society suggests that 64% of autistic people avoid going to the shops, and 28% have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism. The charity is asking shops and services to take simple steps for one hour to help create a more autism friendly world – from dimming the lights and turning down music to sharing information about autism with employees.
More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum which means that someone sees, hears and feels the world in a different, often more intense way to other people. Autistic people often find social situations difficult and struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience which means they feel overwhelmed by ‘too much information’ when out in public.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society, said: “It’s wonderful to see so many well-known high street retailers have already signed up – and ready to make the world a more autism friendly place.
“The National Autistic Society want a world which works for autistic people. With Autism Hour, we want to show retailers the small things they can do to help open up the high street for autistic people. Things like staff finding out a bit more about autism and making simple adjustments such as turning down music or dimming the lights. It’s often the smallest change that makes the biggest difference.”
To find our more information about the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, please visit: www.autism.org.uk/autismhour