Everyone knows that having kids can be tough. Sometimes they scream, sometimes they cry, sometimes they become overwhelmed for reasons that their parents couldn’t even guess at.
But most of us are lucky, because we can only imagine how difficult it must be to raise a child with autism.
The word autism covers an entire spectrum of possible characteristics, but is most commonly associated with a sense of being overloaded with information.
Things like bright lights, loud noises, and physical contact which can be mildly annoying to many of us, can be a huge problem for those on the autistic spectrum. Unfortunately, bright lights and loud noises have become a key part of how many stores sell their goods.
According to Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, the problem is becoming so bad that a recent survey revealed 64% of autistic people avoid going to the shops because of their condition, and 28% have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with it.
The National Autistic Society recently joined forces with intu, owners of fourteen shopping centres across the country including the intu Trafford Centre, to make life a little bit easier for those on the autistic spectrum.
That’s why, for an hour on Monday 2 October from 10am, the intu Trafford Centre team will be asking each of its retailers, restaurants and leisure operators to reduce their lights, music and other background noise to create a safer, more open space for those who would otherwise find shopping difficult.
This is just the latest move toward better accessibility by intu.
Last summer, shoppers were given the chance to try a virtual reality experience created by the National Autistic Society showing what an autistic person can experience in a shopping centre.
Staff at intu Trafford Centre already receive training to provide autism-aware customer service, and autistic people can download guides that allow them to plan and prepare a visit.
And last year, intu Trafford Centre was recognised as the country’s first autism-friendly shopping centre by the National Autistic Society.
Richard Paxton, general manager of the Trafford Centre, said: “We want to put a smile on the face of everyone who visits an intu centre and this means training our staff, supporting our customers and working with brands in the centre as well as organisations like the National Autistic Society to provide a welcoming and accessible experience for all.”
Click here to find our more about the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour.