Nicola Sturgeon and other MSPs outside the Scottish Parliament building, holding Autism Hour sign.

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, joined MSPs in pledging her support for our Autism Hour campaign at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 10 October.

Running from 5 October to 12 October, our campaign encourages shops, visitor attractions, and other businesses across Scotland to set aside time to offer a more autism-friendly service to help support the estimated 58,000 autistic people in Scotland and their families.

The Scottish Parliament is one of 1,250 visitor attractions, shops and other organisations to take part in our campaign. It dimmed lights in the main hall and reduced noise across the building to help create a more relaxing environment for autistic visitors and their families. Staff also received autism awareness training, and added a guide to their website to help autistic visitors.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said:

The Autism Hour campaign is a fantastic way of raising awareness of the challenges autistic people can face in day-to-day life.

“Encouraging organisations across the country to consider what more they can do to make their properties autism-friendly supports our work to help autistic people reach their full potential and live healthier lives.”

Nick Ward, Director of National Autistic Society Scotland, said: “I’m so pleased the First Minister and other MSPs were able to join us and show their support for Autism Hour. It’s fitting that the Scottish Parliament, being home to the policy and law makers, leads the way in helping to make Scotland a more autism-friendly nation.

“Autistic people and their families want to have the opportunity to go to the shops and visitor attractions just like anyone else. But many find the crowds and noise completely overwhelming. Sadly, our research shows that 64% of autistic people avoid the shops altogether.

“It’s really positive therefore that 1,250 shops and visitor attractions across Scotland are participating in Autism Hour this year.”

In 2015, the Scottish Parliament became the first public building in Scotland to achieve the National Autistic Society Scotland’s Autism Friendly Award, which recognises organisations that ensure autistic visitors can access and enjoy venues.

Find out more about Autism Hour