B1 Intermediate Other 39 Folder Collection
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"You've got the smells, you've got the lights, you've got the music, you've got
the rustling of the plastic, you've got the trolleys. For a parent of a child
with autism myself thinking back ten years ago, it was a very stressful
situation and sometimes it was even difficult to get out the door so let alone
get them into the supermarket." Tanya Blakey's 17-year-old daughter has autism
and Tanya says shopping can be a nightmare. "The withering looks from the
general public was often the hardest thing for me, I couldn't explain to
everyone that my child isn't naughty she's just having a moment, this is
really overwhelming for her, please have some understanding." But Tanya says the
impact on her child has been worse. All the noises of a shopping centre that
someone without autism can easily filter out builds to a stressful cacophony.
"So all these noises are coming at a person with autism at the same level of
priority and it can be really overwhelming." Some Countdown stores have
been shutting things down for a low sensory quiet hour ever since a staff
member in Whanganui who has an autistic child suggested it. The Three Kings store
in Auckland has been trialing it for a year now and this week nearly all of its
stores around the country are following suit. Countdown says it's a win for its
staff who come up with new ideas while parents say it's a massive win for them
and the kids.
00:01:40,369 --> 00:01:43,369
00:01:43,520 --> 00:01:50,460 Lights off, music gone, no noisy trolleys, shelf stocking or store announcements
and even the checkout volume is lowered. It really is amazing just to sense the
mood in the shopping centre since the music was cut and most of the lights
were turned down, people are even starting to have conversations because
they can hear each other, it is amazing what other sounds that you can pick up
once the music's down as well - the quiet hum of the freezer, refrigerators, the
rustling of a loaf of bread as you pick it up. Every day sounds that you
experience in your own home but overall it's a far less stressful experience
with far less sensory overload than usual. Megan Stokes is bringing along her
20-year-old son Conor to get some shopping in after school. He headed
straight for the toy section to expand his Hot Wheels collection and wanted two
packets of five cars, as he will only buy items in even numbers. "Do you need to buy
another one Conor?" "Yeah, another one." "Two of them. We're going to use your money yes?"
"So Conor would cry as we drove in to the supermarket
to the carpark and he would basically cry all the way around and
then be happy once we left so it was a huge sensory issue for him and we didn't
realise just how hard it was for him until we realised he had autism.
Have a look for cocoa puffs. That's a good idea. Great idea Conor...There they are."
Megan says she enjoys the peace and quiet as well. "What is it Conor?
Oh it is kombucha, I did want that. Thank you! Yeah it is nice actually it's
nice and calming you know - I've had a busy day I work a lot of hours and
so then being able to come somewhere and shop in peace - I think it's a great idea."
Store manager David Collo says even the staff look forward to the calm that
comes with quiet hour. "When I actually do this hour it's actually very calming
and soothing and it kind of relaxes you it's almost like doing an hour of
meditation, it's actually really, really nice you really get to notice how noisy
the store really is and how bright it is because there's like LED lights
everywhere and you take it for granted and then when you turn it
off it's like wow, you know you can hear crickets, it's cool. Tanya Blakey the
national educator at Autism New Zealand says it's really not a major change but
a small step to people understanding the struggles of others. "They're making some
allowances just like you'd build a ramp for somebody in a wheelchair this is
all that this is, and hopefully in a few years time we won't even be talking
about it, it'll just be we're all just living together and making allowances
for people."
Countdown says there's already been positive feedback and it's not being quiet about
it. It's spreading the word that quiet hour kicked off nationwide today from
2:30 to 3:30pm except it's two Metro city stores in
Auckland and Wellington. Countdown Silverdale and northwest in Auckland
will hold their quiet hour from 9:00 to 10:00am.
Countdown says it's about being more inclusive but Tanya says she's looking
forward to a time when the word inclusive is irrelevant.
"This is the beginning of something quite wonderful and I'm wondering where else can this go
could it go to cinemas, could it go to shopping malls? My daughter loves
going to the theatre you know could there be a little sensory session in the
morning. I think when we don't need that word inclusion, when that word becomes
obsolete, I think we're there." Word is spreading. Both the Warehouse and
Bunnings responded saying they too will look into the initiative. As for Conor
he's very happy with quiet hour as well as those Hotwheel cars.
"High five mum." "High five Conor."
"My Hot Wheels cars that I bought today, and my TicTac minis.
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Countdown supermarkets go quiet for shoppers on the autism spectrum

39 Folder Collection
Amy.Lin published on December 27, 2019
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