What is your supermarket shopping experience like? People living with autism have a hard time putting up with the long queues, too many noisy people in a supermarket as it makes them anxious. A supermarket attendant with a child suffering from autism suggested to senior management in one of Newzealand’s largest supermarkets, a way to help autistic people have a smooth experience shopping in supermarkets.
After a couple of trials in selected stores, the supermarket has finally adopted the idea and has introduced a “quiet hour” nationwide to make the weekly shop easier for those with autism or anxiety issues as well as older people who may prefer a more low-key experience, to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people dealing with the condition.
“The lovely thing about a quiet hour is that we have had very positive feedback from so many customers. Our older customers seem to really enjoy quiet hours too, as well as many other Kiwis who actually just find shopping a bit stressful and can now visit at a more peaceful time,” said the General Manager of the supermarket.
During the quiet hour scheduled for Wednesdays from 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm lighting will be dimmed, in-store radios turned off, checkout volumes lowered, trolley collection and shelf-stocking kept to a bare minimum, and no PA announcements broadcast except in emergencies.
This initiative has been received well by the autistic communities who are already benefiting from the quiet hour and has increased understanding of autism and sensory needs among the public. It highlights how some small changes can create a more inclusive environment that will impact people significantly.