Sainsbury's stores to trial autism friendly initiative
Staff at the participating stores have received training from community enterprise Autism Adventures on the symptoms of autism and what can make a supermarket visit stressful for children with autism, as well as practical tips to help. They have also spent time with a child with autism to learn from them directly.
The trail will see each store offering activity bags on request which have been designed in partnership with a local autism charity. Parents will also be able to ask for a number of store modifications when they begin their shopping trip, from turning off the tannoy to opening ‘priority’ checkouts should queuing be particularly difficult for their child. In addition, they can request that music in the café to be turned off and can use the retailer’s Assisted Shopping service.
Natalie Dunn, Sainsbury’s head of customer experience, said: “There are many aspects of a visit to the supermarket which can be stressful for parents of children with autism, so we are trialling ways in which we can make their lives easier.
"We’ve invested in bespoke training for our colleagues in the area, all of whom are keen to put their learnings into practice and make a positive difference to our customers’ lives.
“We are excited to hear feedback from parents of children with autism and hope that the learnings from this trial will enable us to make a difference to customers across the UK.”
In 2014, Sainsbury’s introduced trolleys for older disabled children. It is also in the process of moving from fluorescent lighting to energy-efficient LED lighting in its stores, which it says will be beneficial to children with autism who can be affected by bright, fluorescent lighting. All three stores in the trial have the trolleys designed for disabled children as well as LED lighting.
The trial is taking place at Sainsbury’s Rice Lane, Sainsbury’s Woolton and Sainsbury’s East Prescot Road.
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