We catch up with the talented Laura James, autistic woman, author and journalist.

Laura explains why she finds shopping difficult, and tells us why she's supporting Autism Hour.  

“Shopping when you’re autistic can be a really difficult experience. When I was younger, I couldn’t understand how the girls I went to school with saw it as a leisure activity as for me it has always felt overwhelmingly stressful and uncomfortable. 

“The shopping environment seems to be getting even worse for people with sensory issues, with brighter lights, louder music, busier perfume counters and an atmosphere that seems somehow faster and busier. Many of the techniques used to make people buy more are horribly unfriendly to someone autistic.

“I tend to try to shop at times when it’s likely to be less busy, do most of my food shopping online and choose smaller shops rather than chains wherever possible, but it is still hard. I was in a department store in Norwich this afternoon and was totally overwhelmed by the music, lights and loud speaker announcements. 

“Autism hour is a wonderful idea and not just for autistic people. When it took place last year, so many non-autistic people told me how much more enjoyable they found shopping during this quiet time. I think shops should talk to all their customers, autistic and neurotypical, and ask them how they find the more pared-down atmosphere, who knows it could even become a permanent thing!”

 

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The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, supported by The Entertainer