If you’re on the autism spectrum shopping can be a confronting experience.
The lights are too bright, the music is too loud, and there’s a lot of people crashing trolleys together.
Not to mention the constant announcements over the PA system and the never-ending repetitive sound of the scanners beeping.
That’s why two Coles supermarkets in Victoria are trialling a ‘Quiet Hour’ pilot program with the aim of making shopping a little easier for people with autism.
The stores in Ringwood and Balwyn East are working with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to provide a ‘low sensory shopping experience’ for one hour every week.
The pilot quiet hours will run between 10:30-11:30am each Tuesday until the end of October.
During Quiet Hour the lights will be dimmed by 50 per cent, the music will be turned down, trolley collection will be avoided, customers will be offered free fruit, and even the volume of the scanners will be reduced.
Coles accessibility sponsor Peter Sheean said it was a way to “meet the differing needs” of customers.
“We are always looking at ways we can meet the differing needs of our customers by creating a shopping environment in which our customers and team members feel comfortable. Through Quiet Hour, we hope to make a difference to our customers who find it challenging to shop in a heightened sensory environment,” he said.
Linzi Coyle, Aspect’s Community Engagement and Operations Manager, said trained Aspect team members will also be on board to help customers.
“Although we have modified some of the physical and sensory stimulators in store, we also hope to achieve a ‘no-judgement’ shopping space for people and families on the spectrum, where customers will feel comfortable and welcome,” she said.
Tuesday morning was chosen because Aspect conducted a survey earlier this year and found this was the time people on the spectrum, along with their family members and carers, preferred to shop.
People who don’t have autism are still more than welcome to shop during Quiet Hour. You can find out more information about Quiet Hour on the Aspect website.
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