Debenhams introduces autism hour

Debenhams autism hour national autistic society charity
Debenhams stores will be sharing information about autism with staff and customers
// Debenhams launches new campaign with National Autistic Society
// The department store will encourage other retailers to hold autism hours like they will
// The annual campaign begins October 5

Debenhams has launched a new campaign with National Autistic Society to encourage other retailers and businesses to hold autism hours.

The annual campaign will begin on October 5.

On October 8, between 11am and 12 noon, the department store chain will aim to create a more autism-friendly shopping experience by turning down music and dimming bright lights.


Debenhams stores will also be sharing information about autism with staff and customers.

According to National Autistic Society, there are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK and 64 per cent of them avoid going into stores.

Meanwhile, 28 per cent have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism.

“Where possible on Tuesday October 8 at 11am, Debenhams will be turning down music and reducing background noise and tannoy announcements,” Debenhams stores director Angela Morrison said.

“We will also be running an education programme for our store colleagues.

“It is important to us to make sure that all our customers feel welcomed and are able to browse, shop and visit our cafés in comfort.”

Debenhams isn’t the only retailer to partner with National Autistic Society.

Toy retailer The Entertainer also joined forces to encourage other shops and businesses in the UK to hold autism hours between October 5-12.

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  1. Certain lights no matter how dim they are can still cause a sensory overload. Music should be turned off not lowered. Also, perfume counters can cause sensory overloads too. Autism needs sensory input at times but other Autism Spectrum Conditions like Asperger Syndrome (what Greta Thunberg has) needs much less sensory input (although it can vary person to person.) Too many sensory overloads can happen either on site as a meltdown (shutdown) or overload such as a jack in a box effect where the meltdown/shutdown happens at home. It’s good to know shops are helping but an hour isn’t enough for people with autism to integrate into outdoor activities when it’s a lifelong condition. Non-autistic people don’t only have 1 hour so why should people with autism only have an hour. Better understanding is needed about sensory issues to help all people with autism and the NAS should know this by now. Good luck.


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