A Melbourne mother has shared her experience grocery shopping with her autistic son in Coles’ new “Quiet Hour”, an initiative designed to benefit customers on the autism spectrum.
Lachlan is eight years old. He has never attended a full day of school, a failure on behalf of the education system but also a reflection of the way over-stimulation can affect him. His mother, 28-year-old Emily Dive says a typical trip to the supermarket can end with Lachlan crawling under shelves, running out of the store, and screaming and yelling in earnest.
“A trip to the supermarket may not seem like much to some, but for us, and many others, it’s a task that comes with many challenges,” Emily told Mamamia. “It can be quite distressing.”
She also shared her gratitude to the Coles Facebook page.
“The entire time we were in there, I was fighting back tears,”she posted to the supermarket’s Facebook page.
Good tears, she confirmed. Tears of the best kind.
“We walked side by side for the entire shopping trip, and the hardest challenge he faced was to make a decision about choosing Grainwaves or Tiny Teddies.”
The pair spent 40 minutes in the Ringwood, Melbourne, store during the ‘Quiet Hour’ that’s being trialled between 10.30am and 11.30am every Tuesday until October.
The hour sees the lights dimmed by 50 per cent, the music turned down, no noisy trolley collection, the volume of the scanners reduced and free fruit offered to customers.
“For Lachlan to be comfortable in what is usually a chaotic environment, is outstanding,” Emily told Mamamia. “Not only that, it’s providing him with confidence and assisting me to provide him with meaningful positive experiences.”
Emily said she grateful to have acknowledged how everyday environments can be a "sensory land-mine" for many to navigate.
"Once we reached the checkout, and Lachlan was hit with the rest of the shopping complex's sounds, lights, smells and people, he was off like a shot into a quiet store he frequently visits adjacent to the supermarket," she posted to Facebook.
Coles stores in Ringwood and Balwyn East are involved in the pilot, working with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to test the benefits of a 'low sensory shopping experience' for customers, as well as those caring for people on the autism spectrum.
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