I was interested to read a few weeks ago that one supermarket has introduced a ‘quiet hour’ for customers with autism. The idea is that music, escalators and other technology will be turned off to reduce stimulation.
I was thinking about this today as I was in the supermarket. For me, supermarket shopping is almost like being in a race: will the sensory inputs win or can I get through my shopping list without being completely overwhelmed.
Today the sensory inputs won. Mainly because the supermarket put the hummus in a completely illogical place and I was walking around the refrigerated aisles for literally 30 minutes getting increasingly agitated when I couldn’t find it (this particular supermarket has two separate areas for refrigerated items, which doesn’t help). At least I drive, so I have a quiet place I can use to desensitise.
So I think initiatives like this are a great idea – but, as always, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.
I’m not sure how much this particular initiative would help me, even if I lived nearby.
Dimmed lighting would be helpful, but the colourful packaging on shelves stacked high still provide too much visual input.
Escalators don’t bother me – and actually, with my mobility issues, may mean I couldn’t get to where I needed to go.
Most of the auditory issues I face come from other customers, rather than music. And I’m not sure what the supermarkets can really do about that. Unless they’re going to oil all the trolley wheels, ban screaming children and not allow people to talk at volume into their mobile phones. Oh, and not have the coffee shop open.
But it’s a step in the right direction.
I think, for me, I’ll continue to try and pick times when it’s likely to be less busy. It doesn’t always work, but it’s the best workaround I can think of at the moment.