This particularly difficult time we are all facing poses additional challenges for autistic people
COVID-19 has brought unpredictability and change of routine for everyone in our communities. At this strange and difficult time, autistic people and their families may be facing more even challenges than usual. Working in partnership AsIAm, Ireland’s national autism advocacy charity, SuperValu stores nationwide are asking their shoppers to now, more than ever before, be extra patient, vigilant, and understanding of fellow shoppers’ varying needs. Together AsIAm and SuperValu are calling for people to ‘take a walk in the shoes’ of an autistic person, who may be struggling with the current changes to everyday life more than others and asking the public to express kindness and be non-judgemental.
Changes to the norm have occurred in everyone’s day-to-day; as a result of COVID-19, you may not however have considered how an autistic person views these changes, for example; A person may find queueing to get into the store difficult, as this is different to their usual experience. An autistic person may not be aware of the distance they are standing from you due to proprioception differences. Please do not comment or judge, but kindly manage the distance yourself in this situation.
New guidelines and posters in place might cause stress to some autistic people as they don’t always understand the meaning. For example, unless there is signage explaining the purpose of it, some autistic people may not know the meaning of the markings on the floor.
Sensory experiences can sometimes be challenging for an autistic person and the increased use of cleaning sprays and hand sanitiser could become overwhelming causing sensory overload.
SuperValu is leading the way in autism friendly shopping since 2016 and its stores nationwide strive to continuously improve the experience of autistic shoppers, particularly during this challenging time. Commenting on the work being doing through their partnership with AsIAmRay Kelly, Marketing Director, SuperValu said; “Taking the time to think through this journey in someone else’s shoes and observing patience and understanding could make a big difference to their day. We are taking the opportunity on World Autism Day to remind our staff and shoppers to be extra vigilant and mindful of others when visiting our stores. The strength in our partnership with AsIAm lies in making our communities more autism friendly and to continue on that journey of greater understanding.”
Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm said “World Autism Day has come at a critical time for our community. Communicating with others, managing change and dealing with the sensory environment are all daily challenges for many autistic people. COVID-19 has greatly heightened these barriers to participation. It is vitally important that those committed to autism-friendly practise double down on their efforts in the days and weeks ahead. That is why it is great to see our friends in SuperValu continue to work to support the autism community and to remind members of the public to make a special effort to be clear, patient and non-judgemental in store and in the community.”
SuperValu is committed to raising understanding and awareness of autism among its customers and staff. This is a challenging time for all of us, so if you do see or hear anyone upset, distressed or finding the store experience difficult or overwhelming, please do not judge. Be kind, patient and understanding. If you or the child or person you care for needs more preparation for the new in-store experience and visual explanation of social distancing, please refer to the AsIAm/SuperValu Social Story on asiam.ie.