Loose Women panel on Autism Hour episodeLoose Women held their own special ‘Loose Autism Hour’ where they dedicated an entire episode to Autism Hour this week. In case you missed it, this short news story tells you what happened. Thanks to everyone behind the scenes for helping to make this happen, all of the audience and of course the Loose ladies.  

ITV’s Loose Women became the world’s first autism friendly live TV show on 10 October when they held an entire episode dedicated to Autism Hour. 

Christine McGuiness and Robert White joined the panel to talk all things autism and Autism Hour. 

Christine McGuinness, mother to autistic twins and star of ITV's Real Housewives of Cheshire, opened up about the joys of raising autistic children and some of the struggles her family faced when taking the children shopping. 

Christine said:
“We avoid going shopping with the children. I’ve tried taking them with ear defenders, and while that helped I wasn’t prepared for the amount of stares we got. I didn’t know at the time they had autism, I just thought they didn’t like the noise.” 

The panel later surprised her with a video message from her husband Paddy who said she was an “amazing wife” and “incredible mother” to their autistic twins.

Later in the show Loose Women panellist Linda Robson joined mother and autistic campaigner Fay Hough and her son Bowie as they visited a local Autism Hour. 

Fay told Linda about the benefits of Autism Hour and the lengths the family had to sometimes go to in order to make the shopping experience as smooth as possible, including checking out the shop the day before taking Bowie. 

Robert White, comedian and Britain’s Got Talent runner up, told the panel about some of his experiences growing up and being diagnosed with autism in his 20s. 

Robert said: “My school was neither special nor normal – if you’re doing average then schools, they don’t worry so much, because you’re getting by. But it’s those people who are just about managing, they’re struggling, but they shouldn’t be just getting by they should be getting to their full potential, and they need help to do that.” 

The show’s producers worked closely with the National Autistic Society to carefully adapt the running of the show to make it a more autism friendly experience for those in the studio and viewers at home. 

Like shops taking part in Autism Hour, Loose Women made changes to their set and to ensure their invited audience of autistic people and families enjoyed to the experience: 

- A visual story was sent to audience members, setting out details about the studio and what would happen
- The ‘warm up’ comedian, used his session to explain more about the show to the audience and ask for their questions
- Studio lights were dimmed 
- Volume of music played between segments was lowered 
- The microphones of the Loose Women and guests were lowered 
- The set background colour was more subdued than normal
- The usual ticker scroll across the bottom of the screens were adapted to be less intrusive
- Ticker lighting that usually sweeps behind the audience was dropped 

Behind the scenes, all of Loose Women’s production crew and studio staff were advised in advance of filming to gain a better understanding of autism, with several quiet rooms made available for anyone that wanted to leave the audience at any time. 

You can catch up on the special Autism Hour Loose Women on the ITV Hub. This recording will be available for 7 days from 10 October 2018. 

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Learn more about Autism Hour or find your local participating stores here.

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