For autistic people, the world can seem full of too much information – and too little understanding. 

There are 700,000 autistic people in the UK. Along with their families, that's over 3 million customers waiting to be welcomed into your business. Over 99% of people have heard of autism, but only 16% of autistic people feel the public understand them.

So, we're asking shops and businesses to organise an Autism Hour and take simple steps for 60 minutes that lead to a more autism-friendly world. Read stories from autistic people and their families to learn about the difference Autism Hour makes. 

What's involved in an Autism Hour?

  • Turning down music and other noise: overwhelming noise is a common barrier to autistic people accessing shops. Where possible, in-store tannoy announcements and other controllable noise should be reduced.
  • Dimming the lights: ​​lighting, particularly fluorescent strip lighting, can be overwhelming for autistic people. Wherever possible, whilst maintaining a safe premises, lights should be dimmed or switched off.
  • Sharing information about autism with employees: we don't expect everyone to be an autism expert but we believe everyone should understand autism. We'll provide information about autism to help your staff make your customers' experience a positive one.
  • Helping the public understand autism: during the week of 6 October, we’ll be asking participating shops and business to share information about autism with their customers.

Can I get involved now?

Absolutely! Although we run our Autism Hour campaign every October, we want to support businesses that want to run their own Autism Hour during the year.

During the Christmas period, shopping can be particularly overwhelming for autistic people. To help maintain an autism-friendly environment during the festive period, here are a few simple adjustments you can make:

  • Make sure that Christmas decorations don’t overload your store, as this can be overstimulating.
  • If possible, create a quiet, Christmas-free zone in your store for autistic people to take a break.
  • Make sure you ask customers for feedback on how your store can be more autism-friendly.

I've already taken part in Autism Hour. What more can I do?

Many businesses have seen the crucial difference that an Autism Hour can make and you can join them in helping to make an autism-friendly world by taking action more regularly.

You can read about how The Entertainer run regular quiet hours, who have this to say:

Everyone, no matter who they are, has the right to an enjoyable shopping experience. Autism Hour involves such simple changes that make a huge difference to those on the autism spectrum.

Another option is to work towards our Autism Friendly Award. This is an excellent way to reward your efforts to inclusive of autistic people.

If you need any support or information, please do feel free to contact us by email at campaigns@nas.org.uk