From Saturday 5 to Saturday 12 October, hundreds of shops around Scotland are turning down music and dimming the lights, as well as providing staff with information about autism to enable them to help and understand autistic customers.
Stuart McMillan MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde is calling on local businesses to take part in Autism Hour to encourage shops to be more autism-friendly.
Autism Hour highlights that small changes can make a big difference to autistic customers and families. National Autistic Society Scotland hope that, after participating in Autism Hour, shops will introduce regular autism-friendly sessions.
There are around 58,000 autistic people in Scotland. Being autistic means seeing, hearing and feeling the world in a different, often more intense way to other people. Autistic people often find social situations difficult and can struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience, which can make busy public places, like shops, overwhelming.
Local shops and businesses are being encouraged to participate and can find out more information here: http://www.autism.org.uk/autismhour
Major names from high streets across Scotland are taking part in Autism Hour, including The Entertainer, Morrisons, Lloyds Banking Group, Home Bargains and intu Group. A full list of participating shops in Scotland can be found at http://www.autism.org.uk/autismhour.
Stuart McMillan MSP said:
“I think Autism Hour is a great initiative and I’d encourage local shops, cafes and other businesses to get involved. Creating an autism-friendly environment by dimming lights, turning music down, and having a quiet space can be easy to do and go a long way to making autistic people and their families feel welcome.
“I’d also encourage businesses and third sector organisations in Inverclyde to consider offering training for employees and volunteers on how to offer a more autism-friendly service, to ensure services are better at catering for everyone’s needs.”
Nick Ward, Director of National Autistic Society Scotland, said:
“I’m delighted Stuart is supporting Autism Hour and encouraging businesses to take part.
“We know that 66% of autistic people in Scotland avoid the shops and, shockingly, 27% have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism. They and their families want and deserve to have the opportunity to go to the shops, just like anyone else.
“Holding an Autism Hour is the first step to creating a more autism-friendly Scotland. Small changes can make a big difference for autistic people and their families.”