Children with autism can now shop for toys in ‘The Entertainer’ without the worry of loud noises or busy crowds. The high-street store has rolled out a nationwide weekly ‘Quiet Hour’ to create a calming shopping experience for autistic children after a successful pilot during February half term.
The hour will take place every Saturday for the first hour of opening in all its UK stores to create a more welcoming environment. During this hour, the music will be switched off.
The National Autistic Society (NAS) welcomed the news. Daniel Cadey, autism access development manager said he was “delighted” the toy shop was taking a positive step to make shopping a better experience for children with autism.
“Small changes such as removing in-store music can make a huge difference to autistic people, who can struggle to filter out background noise which can cause them enormous distress,” Cadey said. “We hope to see other stores follow The Entertainer’s lead and make whatever changes they can to support the needs of all their customers.”
In October 2017, the NAS launched a week of “autism hours” throughout the UK. This was in response to the charity finding out that 64% of families affected by autism avoid going to shops altogether. They teamed up with 14 intu shopping centres across the UK to host the quieter hours of shopping.
During the quiet hours, businesses turned down music and other noise and dimmed the lights, in a bid to make every customer’s experience a positive one.
At the time, Mark Lever, chief executive at NAS said: “We’re encouraging other shops and services to follow their lead and take simple steps that will lead to a more autism-friendly world. A basic understanding of autism could transform the lives of autistic people and their families and avoid becoming isolated or trapped in their homes.”
The Entertainer’s ‘Quiet Hour’ will be held every Saturday morning from now on across all 145 stores. For more information about The Entertainer and for individual store opening hours, please visit www.TheToyShop.com