A string of TV stars have given their backing to a forthcoming quiet shopping hour to help people with autism.
The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, supported by toy store The Entertainer, is creating a week of autism friendly shopping experiences across the UK later this year.
Shops, businesses and shopping centres will be holding Autism Hours throughout the second week of October from 6-13.
Major high street names have backed the move including The Entertainer, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, Co-op and Schuh.
And now TV presenters Chris Packham, Christine McGuinness and Anne Hegarty have all thrown their support behind the project.
Autism Hour was launched last year as the first mass-participation event to encourage shops to be more autism friendly and more than 5,000 shops and businesses took part.
This year the National Autistic Society wants the event to be even bigger and is encouraging more shops and businesses to get involved.
Autism Hours are designed to show businesses the simple steps they can take to improve the shopping experience for autistic customers and families.
A spokesman for the National Autism Society said: “We hope that, after participating, many more of them will follow The Entertainer’s example and introduce permanent changes, like their weekly Quiet Hour, to make their business more autism friendly, as well as working towards our Autism Friendly Award.”
There are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK, as well as three million family members and carers. Being autistic means seeing, hearing and feeling the world in a different, often more intense way to other people.
Autistic people often find social situations difficult and can struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience, which can make busy public places, like shops, overwhelming.
Christine McGuinness, mother to 5-year-old autistic twins, Penelope and Leo, and star of ITVBe’s Real Housewives of Cheshire, said: “The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour is a brilliant way of showing shops how easy it can be to make little changes that have a huge impact for families like mine.