The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour: one week for shops and services to take simple steps for 60 minutes to be more autism-friendly.

For so many people, in a world of too much information and too little understanding, it was so much more than that. Here’s why:

1. We trended on Twitter

Everyone was talking about The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour. Both #AutismHour and #AutismTMI trended. So Autism Hour was one of the top five things discussed on Twitter around the world!

2. Over 8,000 hours

Lights were dimmed, background music reduced, and staff gained understanding of autism for a grand total of 8,080 National Autistic Society Autism Hours – hosted by 4,977 shops and services around the UK. That’s the equivalent of 336 days, everywhere from Orkney to Guernsey, and everywhere in between.

3. The Prime Minister joined us

Theresa May herself stopped by our stand at the Conservative Party Conference during the week to support The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour. Not to mention dozens of MPs across the Labour and Conservative Parties pledging their support.

Theresa May supporting The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour at the Conservative Party Conference

4. Scottish Parliament jumped in with the fun

They already hold our charity’s Autism Friendly Award, so know what they’re doing when it comes to autism-friendliness, but Scottish Parliament continued their support for autistic people by hosting The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour in their Main Hall and public café.

5. Class trip to Pets at Home

Pupils from The National Autistic Society’s Radlett Lodge School - a specialist autism school – visited Pets at Home en masse. The kids enjoyed a calmer environment and learning about the animals. One mum told us: “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.”

6. The power of a hashtag

@JoanneLewis123 took to Twitter to talk about the challenges of taking her two autistic daughters shoe shopping.
We directed her to the interactive Autism Hour map where she found out her local Clarks shoe shop was participating, and she planned a shopping trip with her daughters.

7. All over the news

BBC News focused on The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour for a segment, and The Guardian put it on the front page! We’ve had over 300 news stories about Autism Hour – helping everyone to understand autism, the person, and the change they can make. Catch up here if you missed our BBC segment on air.

8. Local campaign win

The National Autistic Society Plymouth Adult Asperger Branch, supported by our charity’s local campaigns staff, got their local Boots to take part in Autism Hour after a visit back in August. Their return visit during Autism Hour showed the difference every single person can make.

9. Art for Autism Hour. Art for everyone

Tate Liverpool signed up to host National Autistic Society Autism Hours across the week. And now they are looking to keep holding regular quiet hours in the future.

10. An hour that lasts a little longer

Tate Liverpool isn’t alone – after the success of their National Autistic Society Autism Hour including a visit from the Mayor of Dartford, ASDA Greenhithe plans to roll out quiet hours regularly from now on.

ASDA Greenhithe, Dartford Mayor Rosanna Currans, with Asda staff and National Autistic Society Dartford branch members.

11. Rocko’s visit to Chelmsford Museum

Rocko and his mum, Katie, paid a visit to Chelmsford Museum’s National Autistic Society Autism Hour. Yvonne Lawrence, Learning Services Manager at the Museum, said: “'It’s important for us to get involved because learning is about including everyone. The small changes we make benefit not just autistic people but everyone and they add up to a big difference.”

Rocko in his favourite stop at Chelmsford Museum.

12. It’s not just about shopping

“How wonderful, an hour for us to look and maybe not do all our shopping, but a chance to explore and feel part of the community.” One parent of an autistic adult shared their experience of The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour. When so many people feel like they’re living in an “autistic bubble”, and 79% of autistic people and 70% of their families feel socially isolated, this change is so important.

13. Autism Hour 2018 is on the way!

We’ve already had dozens of businesses sign up for the next one! If your business missed out this year, or you took part and want to make sure you’re registered again for next year, you can pre-register here.

Thank you to all the businesses who took part in The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour and to everybody who visited an Autism Hour and told us what you they thought. This was a huge step towards a more autism-friendly world, and we can’t wait for what’s coming next!

Find out how you can help make the world a more autism-friendly place with our interactive game.

Play our interactive game