Our virtual reality brings autism awareness to shoppers at intu Braehead

Shoppers at intu Braehead are being challenged to increase their understanding of autism by taking part in our unique virtual reality experience on Tuesday, September 20 and Wednesday, September 21.

By donning futuristic headsets, shoppers are able to see the popular centre from the point of view of an autistic child experiencing sensory overload – and struggling with glaring lights, loud music, and judgemental looks.

We are using the cutting edge technology to increase public understanding of autism, after it was revealed that almost half (44 per cent) of autistic people living in Scotland sometimes don’t leave the house because they are worried about how others will react to them.

We are touring intu’s 15 shopping centres across the UK with the equipment. The event at intu Braehead marks the first time the virtual reality experience has been shared with the Scottish public. It reflects scenes from our Too Much Information film, which has been viewed more than 56 million times worldwide.

Gary Turnbull and Jo Hamilton take part in virtual reality experience at intu Braehead

Gary Turnbull, general manager of intu Braehead, and Jo Hamilton, head of campaigns at The National Autistic Society Scotland, launching the charity’s virtual reality experience at the shopping centre today.

Jenny Paterson, director of The National Autistic Society Scotland, said: “I’m really pleased that we’re the first charity to be using virtual reality technology in this way. I believe it underlines our commitment to finding innovative and impactful ways to raise public understanding of autism. 

“You could say we’re using virtual reality to make a more autism-friendly Scotland an absolute reality!”

Frontline staff at intu Braehead have been given training by the Scottish Autism charity on how to support people with autism and the challenges they face when visiting the shopping mall. The centre has also carried out a pilot scheme to introduce a Quiet Hour to reduce potential stress for shoppers with the condition.

Lydia Brown, community development manager at intu Braehead said: “We’re pleased to be working with The National Autistic Society Scotland to raise awareness of autism among all our shoppers and our staff using this impactful virtual reality experience. This is part of work by intu Braehead to promote social togetherness and tackle local issues within the communities we serve.”

The virtual reality experience is the latest event in our Too Much Information campaign, launched in April to increase understanding of autism.