The so called „quiet hours”, better known as Autism Hours is a movement, to provide autism-friendly shopping experience and promotes the acceptance of autistics. There are also more and more autism-friendly events arranged, like concerts, theater performances, movie screenings. Some of the main appeals are dimmed lights, toned down music and audible warnings (if there are any) in order to reduce sensory input, what is quite desirable for the target audience: autistics, their loved ones, their caretakers.
Many autistics have sensory processing differences: our senses have to take in everything, what is visible, audible, touchable, or can be tasted, smelt, without a filter – we are on a concert of senses with the maximum volume on, each and every day. Moreover, there are also a bunch of unexpected events: someome touches you, comes very close to you, seeking or even forcing eyecontact while talking to you, the annoying music is interrupted with messages to the customers or the employees. A baby starts to cry, than another… some terrifyingly loud phones, bells are ringing beside the beeps of scanners, cash registers. At the self-checkout, someone did something incorrectly, so this machine also goes off with beeps, lights, etc…
Did you ever shop like an autistic? Have a try, here is a great visual thanks to the YouTube user „streamofawareness”:
Horrible quality, isn`t it? The hurricane of sounds, the brittled image… All of this is on purpose: it is a very good simulation of what an autistic person has to endure now and then, for example when shopping. To do the usually easy-peasy grocery round with an overloaded nervous system is actually a very hard job, so we often decide to interrupt our shopping/partaking in an event and we flee on our own or with assistance…
For similar reasons, a walk in a zoo, going to a concert, to watch a movie or to wait in different institutions can give a hard time for us. There are other obstacles autistics and their assistance have to overcome in this noisy, confusing non-autistic world: our behaviours, reactions differ from the usual, the typical and at the same time many misconceptions about autism are out there – this is often generating fear, because of this we, our chaperon might get insulted, even assaulted.
Autism Hours make these events, experiences enjoyable or at least less uncomfortable to autistics, and promotes autism acceptance. We won`t get gawked on when we avoid eyecontact or are wearing hearing protection, tinted glasses, or might behave autipycally, for instance when we are rocking, making sounds, flap our hands. With the help of a properly trained staff, even an overload or a meltdown can be easier to deal with: they can call our chaperon or they can walk us to a safe place.
An interesting side effect of Autism Hours is, that not only autistics are enjoying the concept and the opportunity of a silent event.
Want to know more about autism? Check out these links:
Thanks to our association member “Anthea Aspie” for the sensual description!