Cen­tre signs up for first autism hour

INTU IN UXBRIDGE AGREES TO TAKE SIM­PLE STEPS TO CRE­ATE A MORE FRIENDLY EN­VI­RON­MENT FOR SHOP­PERS

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - ME­GAN CHARLES & BETH DUFFELL me­gan.charles@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @GetWestLon­don

SHOP­PING cen­tres across west and north Lon­don will re­duce their light­ing and drop­ping the vol­ume on mu­sic and other back­ground noise for the UK’s first ever Autism Hour.

Launched by The Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety, shop­ping cen­tre intu has signed up to sup­port the event, which will take place in Oc­to­ber.

The autism hour en­cour­ages shops and ser­vices to take sim­ple steps to cre­ate a more autism friendly world, giv­ing peo­ple a break from the usual over­load of too much in­for­ma­tion.

On Mon­day Oc­to­ber 2 all of intu’s 14 cen­tres na­tion­wide, in­clud­ing those in Uxbridge and Wat­ford, will re­duce their lights, mu­sic and other back­ground noise at 10am.

All shops and ser­vices will be en­cour­aged to fol­low their lead by tak­ing 60 min­utes dur­ing the week to pro­vide peo­ple with autism with a more com­fort­able shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment.

Re­tail­ers Clarks and Toys ‘R’ Us have al­ready signed up and Lloyds Bank­ing Group will ed­u­cate its col­leagues about autism dur­ing Autism Hour.

A sur­vey by The Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety sug­gests that 64% of autis­tic peo­ple avoid go­ing to the shops, and 28% have been asked to leave a pub­lic place for rea­sons associated with their autism. Mark Lever, chief ex­ec­u­tive at the Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety, said: “We’re de­lighted by the re­sponse to the Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety’s Autism Hour so far, and that shop­ping cen­tre owner intu, Clarks and Toys ‘R’ Us are in­volved al­ready.

“We’re en­cour­ag­ing other shops and ser­vices to fol­low their lead and take sim­ple steps that will lead to a more autism friendly world.

“We hope that the hour will pro­vide a break for fam­i­lies in the week and in the long term will help spread un­der­stand­ing so that shops and ser­vices are more ac­ces­si­ble ev­ery day of the year.”

Staff at intu cen­tres al­ready re­ceive train­ing to pro­vide autism-aware cus­tomer ser­vice and autis­tic peo­ple also ben­e­fit from guides that al­low them to plan and pre­pare a visit to each intu cen­tre.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety, more than 1 in 100 peo­ple are on the autism spec­trum which means that some­one sees, hears and feels the world in a dif­fer­ent, of­ten more in­tense way to other peo­ple.

Alexan­der Ni­coll, cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity di­rec­tor at intu, said: “We are ask­ing ev­ery shop, restau­rant and leisure brand in our cen­tres to dim their lights and re­duce their mu­sic for an hour and to raise aware­ness of autism among their staff and cus­tomers.

New friend­ship and dat­ing agency for adults with spe­cial needs set up af­ter char­ity worker saw sis­ter’s strug­gles

“We hope that launch­ing the Na­tional Autis­tic So­ci­ety’s Autism Hour in our cen­tres will en­cour­age many more or­gan­i­sa­tions across the coun­try to take th­ese sim­ple steps that will make life eas­ier for the mil­lions of peo­ple im­pacted by autism.”

Matt Davis, fa­ther to Isaac, nine, who is autis­tic, said the idea would make life “so much eas­ier” for his son, and al­low him to pre­pare ef­fec­tively for vis­its.

The cus­tomer ser­vice desk at intu Uxbridge

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