Pets at Home St Albans welcomed pupils from Radlett Lodge into the store as part of the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, a week-long event where shops and services take 60 minutes to provide autistic people with a break from the overload of too much information.

The students from Radlett Lodge, a specialist National Autistic Society school, enjoyed a special tour of the store followed by a workshop, which involved learning about rabbits and guinea pigs, in the lead up to the store’s official National Autistic Society Autism Hour.

Pets at Home St Albans will be holding its Autism Hour on Sunday 8 October at 8am, an hour before the store officially opens. Pets at Home will be taking simple steps to make the store more autism friendly - from dimming the lights, turning down music and till bells and sharing information about autism with employees. This is part of the National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information public awareness campaign.

Mary Rogers, Staff Development Coordinator at Radlett Lodge said: “Making sure our students can thrive means we want them to participate as fully as possible in experiences in their community alongside their school work. But it can be really difficult to organise school trips, because so many of our pupils find public places incredibly overwhelming.

“Therefore, as one of the National Autistic Society’s autism specialist schools, Radlett Lodge is thrilled to be involved in the charity’s first UK-wide Autism Hour event - and deeply grateful to Pets at Home St Albans for inviting us to come along to their Autism Hour. It has been a wonderful experience that none of us will forget.”

One pupil’s mum commented, after the class trip: “My son is so happy that one of his favourite shops, Pets at Home, is taking part in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour. School trips can be hard because so many pupils at his school find public places incredibly overwhelming. Autism Hour turned this around for him. His face said it all.”

Dave Golder, store manager at Pets at Home St Albans said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Radlett Lodge into the St Albans store for such an important cause. This is a fantastic initiative and one we are extremely pleased to be a part of.
“Our store will be opening an hour earlier on Sunday 8 October and we will be providing a relaxed, stress free, autism friendly space for our customers.”

To see what Autism Hours are happening near you, visit our interactive map