Autism is a developmental disorder, which is usually first noticed in odd behaviours of toddlers. However, it will affect the person who has it for the rest of their life. They may find it difficult to say what they mean in social situations. They might also not understand what a person speaking to them is trying to say. Others may be overly sensitive to bright lights or loud noises. They might not like people touching them, or strange things happening that are outside their daily routine. Since all of these things happen when you’re shopping, it’s clear why shopping is a bad experience for autistic people.
The National Autistic Society says that over 60% of autistic people and their families avoid shopping. This is because of the environment of shopping, with its bright lights and loud noises. This often harms them, so they avoid shopping.
The National Autistic Society is holding Autism Hour across the UK this week. This is where some shops and businesses turn down their music and dim their lights. They also share information about autism with their employees for an hour. This is done to spread awareness about autism, and to help autistic people feel more comfortable in stressful environments. Nearly 5,000 shops and businesses have signed up throughout the UK.
Lots of shops and businesses are taking part this week. Birmingham especially has a lot of businesses that are helping to spread awareness. Some of these include: Clarks, Toys R Us, Superdrug, Halifax, and Pets at Home.
There’s an interactive map on The National Autistic Society’s website, so you can see which shops are taking part near you. If you can, support these shops during this time, to let them know that you appreciate what they’re doing. Buy some cool stuff while you’re at it!