a family standing together smiling

Jo Lewis lives in Market Harborough with her husband and their two autistic daughters, 13-year-old Holly and 12-year-old Katie.

You may recognise Holly from our Too Much Information campaign in 2017, which you can watch below:

Jo said: “Shopping means planning. My autistic daughters don’t like strong smells, crowds, noise, social interaction, waiting, overwhelming choices and the unexpected. I generally shop online but feel very strongly that the girls should experience everyday situations. Shopping is one of the many tasks they will have to manage themselves as adults.

“I distinctly recall one specific trip to a shopping centre last year. It was busy, loud, people were stopping in random places, there were strange smells and it was too warm. Holly removed her jacket, complaining of feeling hot and sick, before clinging to me whilst covering her ears. We inside less than five minutes before rushing out.

“We planned a shopping trip during the National Autistic Society's Autism Hour in 2017. I felt a huge weight was lifted as we anticipated a more relaxed environment and it lived up to our expectations. In a Clarks store, they said they could accommodate autistic needs on any day and that we could even go at closing time when the store is quiet; we just had to let them know. Holly said “If shopping could always be like that I would go more often."

"As Holly approaches 14, her friends often plan shopping trips. If more of the larger shops joined in and they could go during the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, Holly might have the confidence to join them.”

Attend your local Autism Hour

Autism Hour is coming on 6 October 2018. Sign up to get exclusive updates to find out where your nearest Autism Hour is taking place.

Find your nearest Autism Hour

Toy clown. The Entertainer. TheToyShop.com
The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, supported by The Entertainer