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For too many autistic people, the world can be full of too much information – and too little understanding.

There are 700,000 autistic people in the UK. Along with their families, that’s over three million customers that are often unable to go shopping without fear of overwhelm or judgement. Over 99% of people have heard of autism, but only 16% of autistic people feel the public understands them.

Autism Hour is just one of the many projects the National Autistic Society runs to help improve public understanding, to create a world that works for autistic people.

This year, over 14,500 businesses across the UK are taking part in our Autism Hour campaign, taking their first autism-friendly steps. Many businesses, such as Lloyds Bank or The Entertainer, have realised that they need to do more to support autistic people and have continued to take action.

Is one Autism Hour enough?

Here at The National Autistic Society, we know that autistic people need to go to the shops all year around. We think that businesses across the UK should use Autism Hour as an opportunity to understand what more they can do to best support their autistic customers all year long.

By running our Autism Hour campaign week, we want businesses to engage with their autistic customers, and for autistic people to tell their local shops what they need to go out and about. You can do this by downloading our feedback card, to help you tell your local businesses that they need to take action more regularly.

Is Autism Hour helpful for both staff and customers?

Last year, we ran a survey after our Autism Hour campaign week and found that 93% of respondents would be more likely to go to a shop that is running an Autism Hour on a regular basis. This is overwhelming evidence that Autism Hours have a positive impact, and many businesses find them easy to do.

Our Autism Hour campaign also provides hundreds of thousands of staff with the opportunity to learn about autism, with information and practical advice provided by the National Autistic Society. This is information that staff can use all year around to support autistic customers, and create a better shopping experience for everyone.

Once Autism Hour is over, we’ll continue to work with businesses all over the UK, to help them to take further action. This could be in the form of regular autism hours, or by working towards our Autism Friendly Award.

As you can see, Autism Hour is more than just 60 minutes. It’s an opportunity to learn about autism and show businesses why they need to take action.

To find your local shops that are running an Autism Hour, check out our map.

Check our map