Coles Rolls Out 'Quiet Hour' To Help People On The Autism Spectrum
The supermarket is expanding its 'Quiet Hour' for shoppers who struggle in high-sensory environments.
For any child, dealing with the world around them can be difficult.
But for nine-year-old Cameron Miller, who is on the autism spectrum, and others like him, even a simple trip to the shops can be overwhelming.
“There’s lots of flashing lights and trolleys moving around ... the cash registers make heaps of beeping sounds,” he said.
Cameron’s mother Sarah offers a different explanation.
“Everything you see -- your whole life -- is in high definition, whether it be a crack on the ground or a sign of someone’s outfit or a noise. They are all of equal importance. That distraction is a lot to live with,” she said.
And that can make even a simple grocery shop difficult.
“There’s no amount of preparation that I can do to relieve that anxiety,” Miller said.
But from Tuesday, Coles will roll out its 'Quiet Hour' to 173 stores across the country.
From 10.30am to 11.30am, they’ll dim the lights by 50 percent, turn off the radio, pause overhead announcements and turn down the volume on checkout -- all to ensure the environment is as calm as possible.
“It's for people who struggle to shop in a high sensory environment so that could be people on the autism spectrum or it could be anyone -- we have older customers who just enjoy the calmer experience,” Coles spokesperson Martine Alpins said.
The retailer said the idea came from its customers. After a successful trial, they have more than doubled the number of stores that offer it.
Autism awareness groups say it’s time other retailers did the same.
“Meeting a lot of people on the spectrum, it teaches you that maybe the way we communicate, the way we structure our environments, doesn't really work for many of us, and maybe we do things that don't always make a lot of sense,” Tom Tutton, national manager Autism Spectrum Australia said.
For Cameron and his mum, it just means a better day out.
“When it’s quiet, it just feels a lot better to go in there,” Cameron said.
And who wouldn’t agree with that?