By Thomas Hewitt
A national charity is encouraging the public to help autistic people feel more comfortable out and about in Nottingham.
The National Autistic Society have challenged the British Retail Consortium to work with their members which include some of the country’s biggest retailers in the UK, in order to make the high street’s more autism-friendly.
Named ‘Too Much Information”, the campaign is designed to build up capacity and bring communities together, as well as raise more awareness of the condition across the country, which will allow people with autism to have improved access to public services.
According to the result from a recent survey by the NAS, 79% of autistic people felt they were socially isolated, whilst 70% of families who are living with autism also felt secluded from society.
So far, Aberdeenshire, Aylesbury, Bath and Liverpool have signed up to work with the autism charity to help transform the way their communities and local services understand the condition – and Nottingham is next in line to receive special training.
Nikki Stevenson, Chair of the Nottinghamshire NAS branch said: “The high street project is a good start in including autistic people on out high streets. High streets were not created with autistic people in mind so any change for the better will help.
“A great deal needs to be done across society to ensure that every autistic person is always included and always reaches their full potential.”
Head of Campaigns at the NAS, Tom Madders, said: “Our Too Much Information campaign found that lack of public understanding of autism is leaving autistic people and their families socially isolated.
“Public places can be difficult for an autistic person trying to deal with ‘too much information’ and, eventually, autistic people and their families avoid going out – so their world shrinks.
“64% autistic people told us that they avoid going to shops because of their autism, and that shops and supermarkets are the most important places they want to become autism friendly.
“We want everyone to understand more about autism and to help shops know about the small changes they can make to transform a place from inaccessible to welcoming for an autistic person, such as having detailed customer information on their websites and increasing their staff’s understanding of autism.
“That’s why we want people to get behind us to ask the British Retail Consortium to encourage their members to work towards our Autism Friendly Award and make autistic people and their families feel as welcome when they’re out shopping as everyone else!”
To find out more information about the campaign, visit: http://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/tmi/afa/petition.aspx