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Autism Hour at the Promenades

The Promenades to hold Autism Hour to help make shopping more autism friendly

• The Promenades shopping centre will be holding the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour on Monday 8th October at 10am
• Currently, 64% of autistic people avoid going to the shops because of their autism
• The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour campaign is asking shops and businesses to take simple steps that will lead to a more autism friendly world

The Promenades, the local community shopping centre has teamed up with leading autism charity, the National Autistic Society, to hold an Autism Hour on the 8th October 2018.
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 are thrilled that we have over 7,000 shops already signed up. Many celebrities are backing the campaign including Chris Packham, Anne Hegerty and Christine McGuinness.
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.
Carl Brown, Centre Manager at the Promenades, said: “The Autism Hour is a fantastic initiative and we’re delighted to help support this in our local community.
“We want to make everyone aware of this initiative and give autistic people the opportunity to visit the centre at a time which will make them feel comfortable when shopping at the Promenades and show the rest of the community how, what we may perceive as minor things can impact someone’s shopping experience in a huge way.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society, said: “It’s wonderful to see so many well-known high street retailers have already signed up – and ready to make the world a more autism friendly place.
“Autistic people represent a huge part of our society and it is a disgrace that 64% of autistic people avoid the shops. And, shockingly, 28% of autistic people have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated for their autism. They and their families want and deserve to have the opportunity to go to the shops, just like anyone else.
“The National Autistic Society want a world which works for autistic people. With Autism Hour, we want to show retailers the small things they can do to help open up the high street for autistic people. Things like staff finding out a bit more about autism and making simple adjustments such as turning down music or dimming the lights. It’s often the smallest change that makes the biggest difference.
“Over 5,000 stores have already signed up, and you can find out more or where your nearest participating store is at autism.org.uk/autismhour”
To find our more information about attending a National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, please visit: autism.org.uk/autismhour
Notes to Editors:
For the National Autistic Society’s press enquiries, please contact the Press Team at press@nas.org.uk or on 020 7903 3539.
The National Autistic Society
• The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families. Founded in 1962, it provides information, support and pioneering services, and campaigns for a better world for people on the autism spectrum.
• To find out more about autism or the NAS, visit www.autism.org.uk.
• Follow the NAS on Twitter (@Autism) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/NationalAutisticSociety).

About the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour campaign
• For autistic people, the world can seem full of too much information – and too little understanding. That’s why our Too Much Information campaign was launched, to challenge the myths, misconceptions and stereotypes that contribute to 79% of autistic people feeling socially isolated and 64% of autistic people avoiding going to the shops.
• More than 1 in 100 of the population have been diagnosed with autism. 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.
• As part of the Too Much Information campaign in the week of [insert date] the National Autistic Society are asking shops and businesses to organise a National Autistic Society Autism Hour and take simple steps for 60 minutes that lead to a more autism-friendly world:
What’s involved in a National Autistic Society 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.

What is autism?
• Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
• More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, including an estimated 700,000 people in the UK.
• Every person on the autism spectrum is different. It can present some serious challenges – but, with the right support and understanding, autistic people and their families can live full lives.
• Although everyone is different, people on the autism spectrum may:
• Be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely difficult
• Find social situations and change a challenge, sometimes leading to extreme levels of anxiety

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