Our roving reporter Alex Baldwin recently attended the first autism-friendly quiet hour in ASDA Bromborough. Here are his thoughts about this very successful event.
August 10 turned out rather cloudy to begin with, but it soon warmed up to the point where there were hardly any clouds in the sky. Well, that was what it was like at ASDA in Bromborough where the first quiet hour of the store was held.
The aim of this quiet hour was to make it more autism friendly as people on the autistic spectrum have difficulties with crowds and loud music, but how was this hour beneficial for them? That was for me to find out.
When I went into the store I met Helen-Louise who had organised this event. There was also Rick who was there from Autism Together to set up the fundraising event alongside Paul who was the photographer on the day. After taking photographs with the sun blazing into our eyes we met a few others on the autistic spectrum to see how they found the event useful. They were having their photos taken with the staff from Autism Together. They came at the quietest time of the day, 2pm, and the music was cut off completely to try and avoid sensory overloads.
I was introduced to a new piece of technology at ASDA, the portable scanner, which allows users to calculate how much they are spending in one go. It sounded like a bit of fun in my opinion as you could wander around the store blasting products until you would realise that you had somehow overspent. Although, you were able to delete items you didn’t want in just a couple of taps.
The main benefit of this scanner was the fact that you wouldn’t have to queue up and wait for someone to serve you. You could just pay straight away as all the data from the scanner is all stored. I honestly think that would benefit all of us as we all love waiting for ages in a queue – not! So, as technology advances to make life easier, I would like to see how ASDA advances more in autism-friendly technology.
The service users and the staff had soon gone and that left Helen and I to ask each other a few questions before typing up my report. I asked Helen about her knowledge of autism and she told me that it was something that she had always known about. She even stated the fact that everyone had some trait of autism as people without the disability can suffer claustrophobia and anxiety.
When I start a new task that I haven’t done before I can panic as I may end up in multiple scenarios where I am unsure on the correct answer, and that is very common for people with autism. But let’s be honest, anyone can be like that at times.
As Helen was telling me how she was planning to do more of these quiet hours, I made a suggestion to have more visual structure in the store as autistic people much prefer pictures rather than words as it helps them to understand exactly what they are looking for. Yo Sushi! have done this with their colour coded bowls with each colour representing different prices.
So my time at ASDA was now up and it was time to head back up to Oak House in the roasting hot sun, and Rick was kind enough to offer me a big pack of sushi as a treat!