“Quiet hour” launched by Tesco to help autistic shoppers

Tesco is holding an “autism-friendly quiet hour” to help families with autistic members to shop in an environment more suited to them.  Shopping in supermarkets can be difficult for those with autism and the reason for this is down to sensory overload in busy and noisy environments.  Autistic people make up about 1% of the British population.

This scheme started about halfway through January 2017 and is being trialled for six weeks in their Sussex store based in Crawley.  The hour has been set to take place between 9:00 am and 10:00 am on Saturday mornings. If this scheme is successful, then it will be put into action into more shops nationwide.

Ways that Tesco has approached the “quiet hour” are by dimming the lights and having quieter background noise such as music and announcements.  This will help to improve the overall browsing and paying experience for autistic shoppers.

The idea was first presented to Tesco by Jo-Ann D’Costa-Manuel who is the director of Autism Parent Empower and also has a son with autism. Jo-Ann has said that she received “tuts” and “looks” from shoppers when she visited the shop with her son.  “I wanted to run out and never return but I knew if I did I would never be able to teach my child how to cope and integrate into everyday life” Jo-Ann has said.

Jo-Ann has stated that her son has learned to cope better with the trips to the shop via visits, strategies and support.  Ever since the “quiet hour” trials started, other parents have come forth to tell Jo-Ann that they had felt more relaxed while shopping, which has also relaxed their children.

Daniel Cadey at The National Autistic Society has heard about this scheme and is “thrilled” about the new scheme. Daniel is the Autism Access Development Manager at The National Autistic Society. “We’re delighted that Tesco is trialling an autism-friendly hour in its Crawley store” Daniel has said.

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Skills Tank welcomes initiatives like this and we hope it proves successful for Tesco and they decide to roll it out across more stores. With ‘Every little helps’ as an advertising slogan this ‘little help’ could help a lot. It’s lots of ‘little help’ that makes a big difference to carers of children and adult 16+ with learning difficulties/disabilities, behaviour that challenges and extra assistant needs.

If you’d like some help, and if wellbeing, personal and social development for adults with learning difficulties/disabilities, autism, behaviour that challenges and extra assistant needs are important to you take a look at www.skillstank.co.uk or call Glenys/Wayne 0121 308 6555.