British supermarket chain Morrisons is the latest name to introduce quiet times to assist visitors with autism, creating a calm environment. The dedicated hour at Morrisons is held every Saturday morning at stores in the UK, with escalators, in-store music and display TVs switched off, lights dimmed and tannoy announcements kept to a minimum. These efforts are designed help customers who currently struggle with music and the other noise associated with supermarket shopping.
People with autism can find shopping or dining out in busy, loud environments an anxious and stressful experience, and the initiative has been welcomed by the National Autistic Society (NAS). Daniel Cadey of the NAS said: "Around 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK. This means they see, hear and feel the world differently to other people, often in a more intense way.
"Morrisons 'Quieter Hour' is a step in the right direction for autistic people who find supermarket shopping a real struggle."
We also reported on Punchbowl restaurant in Sydney, Australia, in foodwatching Australia & Asia July over on our trendshub, who offer a Sensory Hour for those with autism and their families. Restaurant lights are dimmed, while electronics and noisy machinery are switched off for a calmer, quieter environment. (Read the full report here)
With increasing awareness around autism and ways of helping those affected, we could start to see more and more of these initiatives for the benefit of all. Does your local restaurant or supermarket do something similar? Let us know on Twitter @thefoodpeople.