Purple Ella and her son with quoteOur next  Autism Hour supporter is the colourful Purple Ella, autistic woman, content creator and ex circus artist! Ella is also a mother to three children, two of whom are autistic.  

You can find out more about Purple Ella by following her on Twitter and subscribing to her YouTube channel. 

Why is Autism Hour important to you? 

Autism hour is important to me because shopping can be difficult for my autistic children and I. We tend to avoid shopping, and do most of our purchasing online. It would be good to be able to access shops more easily. 

What is a shopping experience like for you? 

I find shops, particularly large ones like supermarkets or department stores, very overwhelming. They often play music too loudly and have lots of stimulus (bright colours, busy displays, bright or buzzy lights). This causes me to struggle due to my sensory issues and can lead to overload and meltdown. Additionally I have to communicate with shop assistants which can be challenging due to my difficulties with social communication. I often find myself not understanding them or feeling as if I’ve handled the interaction wrongly, which can make me feel anxious. If the shop is busy or crowded I also find people bump into me or stand too closely which I don’t like as I prefer a larger amount of personal space. 

What could shops do to make the experience better for you? 

I would like them to not play music which is intrusive or loud. I’d love it if they found a way to make tanoy announcements differently (perhaps a rolling screen with them on) as they are always really sudden and cause me to startle. It would be good if they kept to the same layout of products, because you get used to where something is and then they suddenly move it and I feel disoriented. I prefer it when they have a clear queuing system using barriers as otherwise people queue jump or bump into me. I’d appreciate regular autism hours, especially around key shopping times like Christmas, at a variety of times of day rather than always first thing. 

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