In December, the latest round of honorary degrees were announced at the University of BirminghamWritten by Redbrick on 16th January 2018
Autism Hour: Birmingham Shops Support Autistic Children
News Reporter, Ida Thagesen, looks into Autism Hour, a charity event run by The National Autistic Society
In the week of 2nd October, nearly 5,000 shops across the UK participated in Autism Hour which aims to support autistic children and their families by providing them with more suitable shopping conditions.
Last year, The National Autistic Society (NAS) launched their campaign: Too much information. In a campaign video, you see the world from an autistic child’s perspective. This is because the society claim that ‘For autistic people, the world can seem full of too much information – and too little understanding’ as is pointed out throughout the video. This year, NAS led a new initiative: Autism Hour.
Autism Hour is a concept for stores to provide special opening hours targeted at autistic children. According to research from NAS, 60 per cent of autistic people and their families avoid going shopping, because shops can be too loud, glaringly bright and overwhelming. Stores which participate in Autism Hour do so by turning music down, dimming bright lights and sharing information about autism during specific opening hours.
Shops in Birmingham have also signed up for Autism Hour. This covers shops in a wide range of categories ranging from fashion to health to eating out. These stores include Superdrug, Toys R Us, Lloyds Bank, Pets at Home and Clarks and Sainsbury’s. All the stores can be tracked down on an online map on the NAS website, http://www.autism.org.uk/.
“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
But Autism Hour is not just about shopping, it is also about raising awareness about autism and giving autistic families an opportunity to be a part of a community they often feel excluded from. One parent of an autistic child expressed her emotions about it, ‘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’.
NAS is satisfied with the turnout and the results of the Autism Hours which culminated in almost 8,000 hours in all. The Scottish Parliament hosted a Autism Hour in their Main Hall and prime minister Theresa May supported the campaign during the Conservative party Conference. The media focus was bigger than expected and Autism Hour was one of the 5 most discussed things on Twitter. Therefore, it is expected that it will take place again next year. Until then, NAS encourages everyone to look out for people who look distressed – and to be patient and to give them space. In that way, we can all support autistic families.