Asda branch to introduce 'quiet hour' to aid autistic shoppers

Music and escalators in the Manchester store will be switched off for 60 minutes to assist customers troubled by loud noises

Asda, Autism, quiet hour

[Pixabay]

A branch of the British supermarket chain Asda has announced that the Manchester-based store will soon introduce a so-called ‘quiet hour’, designed to improve the shopping experience of autistic or disabled customers.

The Cheetham Hill Asda will cease playing all in-store music and turn off any display TVs, and will also stop its escalators from moving in order to refrain from bothering autistic patrons who are troubled by loud noises. Maps will also be provided that give an outline to store based on images rather than words.

When the first quiet hour kicks off at 8am on May 7th, the branch’s manager Simon Lea says he expects to be “able to hear a pin drop,” according to the Manchester Evening News.

Mr Lea’s decision to introduce the new policy came after he spotted a boy with autism struggling on the shop floor two weeks ago.

“This boy was playing absolute blue murder, kicking and screaming,” he said. “His mum just looked drained. She told me he suffers from autism. He was having a meltdown.”

Spurred on by his encounter with the boy, Mr Lea turned to a member of his staff who as an autistic child to see how the store could better serve customers living with the condition.

“It’s all about helping people really. Six months ago I would have said ‘control your child’ even though I’ve got children. But speaking to people with autism and disabled people has helped me think about how I can make it a better place to shop,” Mr Lea added.

“I suffered for many years with anxiety. I used to absolutely hate going into busy stores. There are a lot of people out there who have mental health issues. There are many people who don’t talk about it.”

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