Give them something to smile about
WE had barely seen the back of Halloween, and had not even seen any bonfire night fireworks, when the Christmas adverts started airing on our TV screens over the weekend.
I know I’m not the only one who has noticed the festive season is starting earlier and earlier every year, and with that comes the pressure on families to spend – sometimes with money they haven’t got.
It’s worth remembering the real reasons for Christmas, whether for you that is a religious celebration, or simply quality time to spend with family and friends. It really isn’t about how much you have splashed out, or how extravagant your gifts.
Once again this year, there will be families who will feel the strain for a variety of reasons, and that’s why, as a council, we are proud to be able to offer our support by collecting donations as part of our annual Toybox Appeal.
The appeal helps ensure that children who may miss out, because of their circumstances, have something to smile about on Christmas morning.
There will be plenty of information shared in the media, on our website and social media feeds, over the next few weeks. We will be grateful of your support. 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 autismfriendly hours, with lighting and piped music dimmed. I thought this was a fantastic idea.
Cinemas have autismfriendly 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!”
Just imagine how painful all that would be to anybody, especially children, with autism?
That’s something to remember the next time you’re stuck in a long queue at the checkout and starting to feel hard done by . . .
You can follow Phil Evans on Twitter @philevanswales or visit www.philevans.co.uk