Herts high street stores turn down the lights for Autism Hour

PUBLISHED: 11:49 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:26 10 October 2019

The Entertainer store in Westgate Shopping Centre, Stevenage. The toy shop chain are sponsoring this year's campaign. Picture: Archant

The Entertainer store in Westgate Shopping Centre, Stevenage. The toy shop chain are sponsoring this year's campaign. Picture: Archant

Archant

Hertfordshire stores are dimming their lights this week in aid of Autism Hour.

126 stores in Hertfordshire have signed up to Autism Hour 2019. Picture: NAS126 stores in Hertfordshire have signed up to Autism Hour 2019. Picture: NAS

High street stores and local businesses have signed up to the national campaign which aims to educate staff and customers on how to better support autistic customers.

Autism Hour - an initiative of the National Autistic Society - runs from October 5 to 12 in which stores dim their lights, turn down music and reduce background noise to create an autism-friendly environment.

Recent research found that 64 per cent of autistic people avoid the shops, while 28 per cent have been asked to leave a public place.

In total, 126 Hertfordshire stores have signed up the campaign, including 31 in St Albans and Harpenden, 51 in Stevenage and the North Herts area, 37 in Welywn and Hatfield, and seven in Royston.

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Councillor Richard Roberts, cabinet member for adult care and health at Herts County Council, said: "It's great to see local business coming together and think about the inclusivity of every member of our community by taking part in Autism Hour. We hope that more and more businesses will continue to get involved in this event in future."

George Stanbury, campaigns officer at the National Autistic Society - and who has autism himself - said the campaign aims "to make going out and about easier for autistic people without overwhelming environments or misunderstanding from staff and the public".

Last year 11,000 businesses took part in Autism Hour across the country.

To find out which shops and businesses are taking part near you, visit autism.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/autism-hour/map.aspx

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