Manor Walks Shopping and Leisure is hosting a special autism-friendly shopping event in October.

The event is part of The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour, the UK’s first week-long initiative, launching on October 2, where shops and services will take 60 minutes to provide autistic people with a break from the overload of ‘too much information’.

Manor Walks will be holding their Autism Hour on Sunday October 8 at 10am. During this hour they will be taking simple steps to make their shopping centre more autism friendly – from dimming the lights, turning down music, stopping tannoy announcements and sharing information about autism with employees and the public.

Over sixty retailers including stores such as ASDA, Sainsbury’s, The Works, CeX, M&S, TK Maxx and Costa Coffee, to name a few, will be taking part in Manor Walks’ Autism Hour.

New Look and Claire’s Accessories will be opening an hour earlier exclusively for people on the autistic spectrum and their families.

Vue Cramlington will be hosting a special autism-friendly screening of The Jungle Bunch at 10:30am on Sunday, October 8.

In addition, Manor Walks will also be providing a break-out space where families can have some chill out time if shopping becomes too much.

Bruno Coppola, General Manager at Manor Walks Shopping Centre, said: “We’re delighted to be involved with The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour as we realise how difficult shopping can be for people on the autistic spectrum and their families.”

“It’s fantastic to see so many of our retailers backing this great initiative to help extend our welcome to everyone in the community. By making a few slight adjustments to stores and creating a ‘quiet’ and ‘calming’ shopping period, we’re enabling everyone to have an enjoyable shopping experience regardless of their disability.”

“Going forward we would like to make Autism Hour a regular event.”

Manor Walks are going to great lengths to adapt the environment to create a shopping experience that better suits the needs of those with autism.

Mark Lever, CEO at the National Autistic Society said: “It is really encouraging to see shops and services such as Manor Walks getting involved in the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour. Like anyone, people on the autism spectrum and their families want the opportunity to go to the shops. But many find the often busy, loud and unpredictable environment of public places overwhelming and avoid them altogether.”

“Our Too Much Information campaign has highlighted that the smallest changes can make the biggest difference for autistic people and we are confident this week-long event around the UK will help shops and services understand how we can work towards a more autism friendly world.”