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Did you know that more than 1 in 100 people in the UK have autism? That’s over 7000 children and adults in Dorset alone.

In the run up to Christmas this year we want to get shops and leisure businesses across the Wessex region thinking and talking about autism.

By raising awareness and understanding we want to encourage businesses to be mindful of customers who may have autism and their families and look at how easy it can be to improve accessibility.

Not only will becoming more autism friendly open doors to thousands of potential new customers, it will help to create a more inclusive community.


Challenges that people with autism may face

With the festive season fast approaching, shopping will be a necessity for many people. However, research shows that 64% of people with autism avoid going to the shops (according to a survey by the National Autistic Society).

We also know that many people with autism and their families can find festive activities like going to see Santa and going to the theatre or the cinema, challenging. 

Why? For someone with autism and their family, shopping and other leisure activities can be incredibly stressful. 

The noise, lights and crowds, as well as the uncertainty of what to expect, can be overwhelming and cause stress and anxiety. 

The feeling that others may not understand and will pass judgment can add to the stress. 


How can shops or leisure businesses become more autism friendly?

Small changes can make a big difference to someone with autism and their family. See our free to download Autism Friendly Guide. 

Businesses can become more autism friendly simply by:

1. Turning down music and reducing other noise, for example tannoy announcements; 

2. Dimming or switching lights off where it’s safe and possible to do so; and

3. Sharing information about autism with staff and the public to raise awareness and understanding. 

Our Autism Advice Factsheet is free to download and display on staff and community noticeboards. 

If you are a shop or leisure business could you set aside a time and date to make these small changes or simply be mindful of customers who may have autism and their families?

If you can, shout about it! Tell your customers and send details of your plans to us at [email protected] We’ll share the news with our supporters and the wider community.

Did you know...we also offer dedicated autism training courses. For details of the courses on offer please visit Events or to request a course tailored to your business send an email to [email protected]


Everyone can get involved… Become an Autism Advocate

We need as many people as possible to help us to spread the word.

You can do your bit by printing off our Autism Friendly Guide, taking it to your local shops and leisure businesses and asking the Managers if they will get involved.

If you’re active on social media, why not share details of the campaign on Facebook and Twitter and tag in businesses that you would like to see supporting the campaign. Don’t forget to use #autismfriendly and tag in @autismwessex.


Autism Wessex is registered in England & Wales under charity number 1000792 at Charity Hub, Portfield School, Parley Lane, Christchurch, BH23 6BP. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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