“Quiet Hour” Introduced In Morrisons: My Thoughts

Morrisons have announced that they will be introducing a “quiet hour” in their stores for autistic shoppers who struggle with noise and brightness. I believe this is the first major store to roll this hour out nationwide which, to me, is shockingly bad. The National Autistic Society has been trying to get stores to introduce “autism hour” in all stores throughout October, but that doesn’t mean that all will participate though they should. In 2018 where we have all the knowledge of Autism that we do and the means to help people, why aren’t we doing more?

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One hour of “quiet” time means that parents with autistic children have one hour a week to get their shopping done with their children in tow or adults with autism have a short time frame to get theirs done, which we all know is unrealistic. I also imagine that people will be fleeing to the shops for this hour and it will be jam packed leaving people waiting in queues and dealing with crowds making it an entirely different ordeal altogether. Is an hour enough? Why can’t we make it a few hours, minimum? Why can’t it be the norm for all supermarkets?  I would love these questions to be answered.

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t just affect people with Autism. People with PTSD can be affected by certain noises or visuals, people with anxiety can find it just as overwhelming as people with autism, it’s sensory overload for anyone, but it’s amplified for people with autism. It’s not just the music, the till beeping or the tannoy announcements; it’s also the noise of the trolleys, baskets, people talking. All mixed together it can be debilitating, uncomfortable and stressful. I experience this myself every time I go in to a supermarket, and let me tell you that some of my panic attacks are definitely brought on by the noise levels and crowds in supermarkets.

If an hour is where we draw the line on making people feel comfortable in their local stores, can we really consider that good customer service? It that what inclusion is now? One measly hour a week to get all of your shopping done. It’s looking out for the big guy, as per usual, and telling the little guy that, sure, they can have what they need, but only when it suits the big guy. Whatever happened to equality? Just because someone has a disadvantage they aren’t allowed to feel comfortable in places that are seen as a necessity for everyday supplies. What we need to do is create a safe space for people with autism where they can shop whenever they want/need to instead of maintaining a stressful ordeal.

Arguably, this is why internet shopping is taking over. Put convenience aside and what you have is a stress free place for people to buy what they need. No noise, no bright lighting, no sensory overload.

So an hour is what we get for now, from one supermarket. Although this is a step in the right direction, I have to ask – is it enough? Why aren’t we doing more? And most of all, why has it taken so long?

Author: Jodie Paterson

I'm Jodie Paterson, a 24 year old Edinburgh based blogger! Born and raised in Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire, I quickly grew a passion for writing, photography and many other creative ventures due to the beautiful Scottish landscapes that surrounded me, and I'm now 5 years in to my blogging journey and still absolutely loving it!

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