Shopping centres across UK to have ‘quiet hour’ to help people with autism

Shopping centres nationwide will host a 'quiet hour' to raise awareness of the problems faced by people with autism when shopping.

Shopping centres and restaurants across Britain will fall silent this autumn with the launch of ‘autism hour’.

The event will see businesses reduce their lights, music and other background noise from 10am on Monday, October 2 in a bid to raise awareness of autism, with a survey finding that 64 per cent of autistic people avoid going to shops.

The survey, published by The National Autistic Society, also found that 28 per cent of people have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism.

Autism Hour launches as a partnership between the National Autistic Society and intu shopping centre chain, with Clarks and Toys ‘R’ Us also throwing their weight behind the event.

“We’re encouraging other shops and services to follow their lead and take simple steps that will lead to a more autism friendly world,” said Mark Lever, Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society.

The news comes as The Big Issue features a moving piece from 19-year-old Amy Maguire this week. The teenage writer, from Ayr, offers a unique, rarely-heard perspective as she explores having a brother with autism.

Cinemas across the country are also offering autism-friendly screenings this summer. In partnership with not-for-profit support provider Dimensions, Cineworld, Showcase, Odeon and Vue cinemas across the country will offer additional autism-friendly screenings throughout the month, on top of their regular screenings every Sunday.

Glasgow Film Theatre this year also became the first UK Cinema to scoop the NAS Autism Friendly Award for its work with children and adults with autism. That means no ‘shushing’ if it gets a bit too noisy and no bums-on-seats policies.

Want to know about autism services in your area? Visit Pick up a copy of this week’s Big Issue to catch Amy Maguire’s powerful story.