Making shopping autism-friendly

Manor Walks Shopping and Leisure in Cramlington.
Manor Walks Shopping and Leisure in Cramlington.

A special autism-friendly shopping event is being held next month.

Manor Walks at Cramlington will dim the lights, turn down music, stop tannoy announcements and share information about autism with employees and the public.

The event is part of The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, a week-long initiative, where shops and services will take 60 minutes to provide autistic people with a break from the overload of ‘too much information’.

More than 60 retailers will be taking part in Manor Walks’ Autism Hour, from 10am on Sunday, October 8.

New Look and Claire’s Accessories will be opening an hour earlier exclusively for people on the autistic spectrum and their families, while Vue Cramlington will be hosting a special autism-friendly screening of The Jungle Bunch at 10.30am.

Manor Walks will also be providing an area where families can chill-out if shopping becomes too much.

General manager Bruno Coppola said: “We’re delighted to be involved with The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour as we realise how difficult shopping can be for people on the autistic spectrum and their families.

“It’s fantastic to see so many of our retailers backing this great initiative to help extend our welcome to everyone in the community. By making a few slight adjustments to stores and creating a quiet and calming shopping period, we’re enabling everyone to have an enjoyable shopping experience regardless of their disability.

“Going forward, we would like to make Autism Hour a regular event.”

Mark Lever, CEO at the National Autistic Society, said: “It is really encouraging to see shops and services such as Manor Walks getting involved in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour. Like anyone, people on the autism spectrum and their families want the opportunity to go to the shops. But many find the often busy, loud and unpredictable environment of public places overwhelming and avoid them altogether.

“Our Too Much Information campaign has highlighted that the smallest changes can make the biggest difference for autistic people and we are confident this week-long event around the UK will help shops and services understand how we can work towards a more autism-friendly world.”