Last week I was shopping for some ‘Odds and Ends’ which I needed to match up with some ‘Evens and Beginnings’ that I’d bought the week before.
I wandered into a branch of a well-known store (which I won’t name). It’s the one that sells bargains for the home.
I saw a notice that took me aback. Had he been there, the late Chico Marx would have asked, “Just-a how a-far did it a-take you a-back?” But as he was more than just late – he sadly died many years ago – he didn’t pose the question. In any event, I don’t a-suppose he ever a-shopped where bargains were a-sold for the home.
The notice mentioned upcoming dates when the shop would be staging autism friendly hours, with lighting and piped music dimmed. I thought this was a fantastic idea.
Cinemas have autism friendly screenings and many pantomimes have autism friendly performances when the music, lighting and special effects are lowered so not to upset any autistic child in the audience. Doing some research, I found that certain supermarkets have had autism friendly hours for some time, when even the till ‘beeps’ are quieter.
I also discovered that out of the 700,000 people in Britain on the autistic spectrum, 60% of them avoid shopping because they see, hear and feel the world in a much more intense way to the rest of us.
According to the National Autism Society, a small change like autism friendly hours in shops can make a big difference to the lives of people with autism.
You and I know what supermarkets can be like at busy times, with seemingly hundreds of shoppers pushing their trolleys around, loud ‘muzak’ and sudden announcements over the Tannoy – “Gaynor to Till Seven please!”
Imagine how painful all that would be to anyone, especially children, with autism?
That’s something to remember the next time you’re stuck in a long queue at the check-out and starting to feel hard done by . . .