Give them some­thing to smile about

Carmarthen Journal - - News - PHILEVANS­col­umn Co­me­dian Phil Evans from Am­man­ford is known as the man who puts the “cwtsh” into com­edy

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.phil­e­

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