After the initial success of the ASDA ‘quiet hour’ to help autistic children feel more comfortable in store, at least eight other shops will be rolling out a similar program.
The ASDA superstore in Manchester Cheetham Hill introduced the ‘quiet hour’ last Saturday – turning off all escalators, tannoy announcements, music and display televisions to help those with autism struggling to shop.
Manager Simon Lea said the trial had been a great success and he had positive feedback from those involved; ‘The store was silent, and we had great feedback from the families who benefited. Now it will be a regular event for us – every Saturday.’
Simon added; ‘We have eight other stores on board now at Manchester Fort who will be doing the same.’
The idea of a quiet hour was first introduced by Simon, who was inspired after seeing a child with autism struggling during a shopping trip.
‘This boy was playing absolute blue murder, kicking and screaming. His mum looked drained. She told me he suffers from autism. He was having a meltdown,’ Simon told the Manchester Evening News.
After speaking to a colleague who has an autistic child Simon worked out the plan to try and make their shopping environment a little bit easier.
Simon said: ‘It’s all about helping people really. Six months ago I would have said “control your child” even though I’ve got children. But speaking to people with autism and disabled people has helped me think about how I can make it a better place to shop.
‘I suffered for many years with anxiety. I used to absolutely hate going into busy stores. There are a lot of people out there who have mental health issues. There are many people who don’t talk about it.’
It looks like the idea is a popular one, with Manchester Evening News reporting that when they first published the story on their Facebook page it had 800 likes and over 300 comments.
What do you think about a ‘quiet hour’? Let us know in the comments below!