You may have read about it on social media, Morrison’s are having a ‘quiet hour’ every Saturday morning. This has been arranged in conjunction with the National Autistic Society. Some people think it’s about no noisy kids and simply don’t get it, which is fine, but they are then whining about kids at all other times of the day.

Photo by Theo Moye 11/08/16 Morrisons Supermarket in Tiverton opens after refurbishment.

The funny thing is if there’s a group of people to moan about in Morrison’s it’s the older generations who use their shopping trip as a social event, take all day to get around the aisles and stand to chat blocking everyone’s way. The one group I’ve not seen much of in their stores is the littluns having a scream because mummy won’t buy them what they want.

That’s beside the point, I just thought I’d clear up that little point before moving on.

Should it be on a Saturday morning? Probably not. ‘Oh but weekdays everyone will be at work’, they respond. Well not everyone, obviously, but moving on, have it as an early evening event, maybe? Saturdays are one of the busiest days for supermarkets, everyone knows that, and one thing children on the Autistic spectrum generally don’t like is ‘busy’. Or, they could do several sessions, Saturdays, weekdays, evenings, please everybody.

Remember although this is organised with NAS, others will benefit from the music being turned off, the tannoy turned off and the till beeps turned down. People with hearing impairments will enjoy it, older people may find the quieter environment preferable.

I’m glad this is being badged as a quiet hour and not an Autism hour, it’s positive for lots of reasons.

An hour is simply not long enough. Everyone would need to arrive at the same time and get out within 60 minutes. Of course, you could just pop in for a few items part-way into the session, but an hour is still limiting the opportunities and seems like a small gesture.

What happens after the hour? Does everything get turned back on at the stroke of the hour? Is this going to cause a huge sensory overload for anyone on the spectrum who happened to still be in the store? By saying it’s on for an hour it does sound like they will ‘return to normal’ as the clock strikes the hour.

Early morning is all a bit of a rush. Getting up, ready, out of the house, to the store, shopping done and out again, it all seems a bit too much for most families.

Is it too easy to do? Couldn’t it have been something of a bigger commitment?

How about a session one day a week, preferably their statistically quietest day, from, say, 5 pm until closing time?

Also, NAS did NOT come up with this concept, they don’t own it. I was working with supermarkets and big stores – Asda, ToysRus – to run similar sessions back in 2012/13, and I’m pretty sure I would have pinched the idea from somewhere else rather than coming up with it myself.

Asda had a ‘quiet night’; the tannoys and music turned off, in-store tv displays turned off, lighting lower, doors open… They started at 5 pm and went through until closing time. The staff reported a much more pleasant environment without the music blaring and almost constant announcements over the tannoy. These sessions were very popular with families and the elderly who enjoyed the quiet atmosphere.

NAS do like to take credit for everything though, so maybe they do believe they created the concept.

Morrison’s could really evolve this into something positive for so many people, but no, an hour is simply not long enough, Saturday is the wrong day.

So yes, apart from the wrong day and amount of time it’s fab.

Anyone else want to try to do this properly? I’m available for free to offer advice on setting this up in other places.

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