According to the National Autistic Society, 64% of autistic people avoid going to the shops because of sensory overload.
For that reason, we're rolling out a weekly Autism Hour at Teesside Park from 9am to 10am on Saturday mornings.
This will continue every Saturday from the launch date to make shopping at Teesside more autism-friendly.
We're here to help everyone enjoy their experience.
So what can you expect? We've spoken to our in-store teams and here's what we've agreed:
Argos – Music off, no tannoy announcements for the first hour, and no roll cages on the floor or staff replenishing shelves between 9am and 10am.
ASDA Living – A third of the lights off and music level lowered.
Boots – Music off. Trained pharmacist in branch to offer help and advice.
Barker and Stonehouse – Staff awareness.
Carphone Warehouse – Music level lowered.
Charles Clinkard – Music will be turned off completely. Customers can make appointments (first thing or last thing on a weekend, and subject to availability during the week) to take away the element of having to wait. They have toys for children to play with. In addition, all Charles Clinkard staff have completed autism awareness training with local charity Daisy Chain. You can find out more about Daisy chain by clicking here.
Clarks – Music off. Clarks has its own autism friendly shopping experiences out of hours on a Sunday morning before the store is open to customers.
Clintons – Music level lowered.
Costa (& Costa NEXT) – Staff awareness.
Currys PC World – Music off. There will be the usual noise and lights coming from products on display, such as televisions.
EE – Music/monitors off.
DFS – Staff awareness.
Footasylum – Music level lowered.
GAME – Staff awareness.
Greggs – Music off for the first hour.
H&M – Music level lowered.
Hobbycraft – Lighting will be lowered to emergency lighting; music will also be lowered.
Holland & Barrett – Staff awareness.
Hotel Chocolat – Music level lowered.
JD – Music level lowered.
Laura Ashley – Music level lowered.
Mamas & Papas – Music off and partial lighting.
Moss Bros – Music off.
Mothercare – Music and kids’ ride-on switched off.
M&S – No music; lighting level lowered.
McDonald's – Music level lowered.
Morrisons – Music off, kiddy rides off, and no tannoy announcements in the first hour.
New Look – Lighting lowered.
NEXT – Music level lowered.
Outfit – Music level lowered.
O2 – Music level lowered.
Office Outlet – Music level lowered.
Pandora – Music level lowered.
Paperchase – Music off.
Pets At Home – Staff awareness, and they will gladly lift the animals out for autistic shoppers to pet.
River Island – Music off.
Schuh – Music off.
Simply Be – Music level lowered.
Sports Direct – Music level lowered.
Superdrug – Music off and all other noise reduced (no till bells, no cages/trolleys on the shop floor moved, immediately responding to barrier alarms etc.).
As a company, Superdrug has educated its store teams with an introduction to autism, how to interact with customers who have autism, and how to help them, along with how its stores look and feel during the hour.
Sofology – Music level lowered.
Showcase Cinema – on the second Sunday of every month, Showcase has an Autism Friendly Screening, where the lighting and volume are lowered in the auditorium, there aren’t any trailers, the films are shown in 2D, customers can take their own food/drink in, and they’re able to move around during the screening.
Thomas Cook – Music off.
TUI – Music level lowered.
TK Maxx – Lowered music and lighting.
USC – Music level lowered.
WH Smith – Will open at 8:30 on a Saturday to allow an hour and a half for Autism Hour. Lighting will be lowered and music will be switched off during this time.