This week, The National Autistic Society launched ‘autism hour week' across the UK. Ninety-nine per cent of people have heard of autism, but only 16% of autistic people feel the public understand them.

So, as part of The National Autistic Society's Too Much Information campaign, they are asking shops and businesses to organize an Autism Hour and take simple steps for 60 minutes that lead to a more autism-friendly world.

More than 1 in 100 of the population have been diagnosed with autism. Along with their families, that's more than 3 million customers waiting to be welcomed into your business.

What's involved in an 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: The NAS don't expect everyone to be an autism expert but believe everyone should understand autism. They'll provide information about autism to help staff make customers' experience a positive one.
  • Helping the public understand autism: during this week, the NAS have asked participating shops and business to share information about autism with their customers.

Fay Hough, Havering Coordinator for Jon Cruddas MP said: "As a mother of a child with autism I welcome ‘Autism Hour'. Shopping with my son is extremely difficult, and by businesses making their store autism friendly for one hour, it gives my family the chance to shop in an environment that's comfortable, and sensory friendly."

Jon Cruddas MP said: "This campaign is an extremely important one. A simple trip to the shop can be very distressing for those with autism, so I think it's fantastic that certain businesses have stepped forward to participate in ‘Autism Hour'. It creates awareness on a nationwide scale and I applaud The National Autistic Society for bringing this to light."

For a full list of businesses participating in 'autism hour' visit The National Autistic Society's website