Polish retail chain introduces “quiet hours” for people with autism

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Notes from Poland – One of Poland’s largest retail chains has become the latest to introduce special quiet hours – with muted music and announcements – to make shopping easier for people with autism.

Empik, Poland’s leading chain of multimedia stores, has teamed up with the JiM Foundation, an NGO that supports autistic people. They want the initiative to not only help shoppers who are on the autistic spectrum, but also to raise wider social awareness of the difficulties they face.

“Music or announcements in stores are things that most of us do not pay attention to,” says Monika Marianowicz of Empik. “However, for people on the autism spectrum, they can be barriers to everyday functioning and make shopping a huge challenge.”

Many people with autism find the sensory experience of shopping extremely uncomfortable, which leads some to forego it completely. In response, many stores around the world have introduced dedicated periods in which music and announcements are reduced or stopped completely and lights are dimmed.

In Empik’s almost 300 stores around Poland, such quiet hours will take place every Tuesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. They were held yesterday for the first time.

Autistic people will also be given priority service, and Empik has provided staff with educational materials about autism prepared by the JiM Foundation.

Notes from Poland

Photo Misiarz via Wikimedia Commons

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