There will be a monthly atmosphere of calm at Crystal Peaks as the shopping centre launches its new Sensory Sundays.
The award winning shopping centre took part in last year’s National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour.
And the event proved so popular that the centre has decided that, from January 27, the final Sunday of every month will be classed as a Sensory Sunday.
Between 10am and 2pm, shops, cafes and businesses throughout the complex will be asked to implement a range of simple solutions to make the shopping experience easier for people living with autism and conditions such as Sensory Perception Disorder, Hyperacusis, Bell’s Palsy and stress – all of which can cause sound sensitivity
Those changes will range from dimming bright lights and reducing tannoy announcements to turning down music, creating a calmer Sunday shopping experience.
There are currently around 700,000 autistic people in the UK, as well as three million family members and carers.
Being autistic means seeing, hearing and feeling the world in a different, often more intense way to other people.
Autistic people often find social situations difficult and can struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience, which can make busy public places like shopping malls overwhelming.
As a result, 64 per cent of people with autism avoid things like going to the shops, quite often because of the bright lights, the music, the general noise and the information overload.
“We were so pleased with the response to last year’s one-off event that we decided it would be a very good idea to make this sort of day a regular part of the Crystal Peaks calendar,” said centre manager Lee Greenwood.
“Crystal Peaks is very much a part of the community and, as such, we want to make the shopping experience the best we can for all our visitors.
“These are very simple measures that we will be implementing and asking our shops to implement too but those simple changes could have a very positive impact for autistic people and their families without causing any problems for our other visitors.”