“It doesn’t cost anything to just go that extra mile. A little bit of kindness can make a massive difference in my world.”

16 months ago, we introduced you to Alex, and how his world can seem full of too much information – and too little understanding. Shops can be too loud, glaringly bright and overwhelming for autistic people.

For autistic people, the world can seem full of too much information – and too little understanding. That’s why 64% of autistic people and their families avoid even going out to the shops. Shops can be too loud, glaringly bright and overwhelming for autistic people. 

Matt, father to Isaac who was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, says, “Noise, lighting and crowds are all triggers for Isaac so either we avoid shops altogether or we have to put in a great deal of preparation to ensure Isaac doesn’t become overwhelmed.” 

Add to this a public that doesn’t always understand autism and an everyday activity like going to the shops can become impossible for autistic people and their families. The result is 79% of autistic people feeling socially isolated.

That’s why, in the week of 2 October, with the support of shopping centre owner intu, we’re asking shops and businesses to take simple steps for 60 minutes that lead to a more autism-friendly world.

Illustration to explain what will happen during Autism Hour

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..

"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." 

“We want to put a smile on the face of everyone who visits an intu centre and this means training our staff, supporting our customers and working with brands in our centres as well as organisations like The National Autistic Society to provide a welcoming and accessible experience for all.”

Taking part in The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour is straightforward, but the changes shops and businesses make will have a big impact for autistic people and their families.