Over 4,500 stores across the UK are set to dim their lights and turn down the music to create an autism-friendly environment for one hour next week as part of a new event with the National Autistic Society.
Starting at 10am on 2 October, shops taking part will become more welcoming spaces for autistic people, while also sharing information about the condition and spreading awareness.
Branches of popular high street brands including Marks & Spencer, Clarks, Superdrug, John Lewis, Toys 'R' Us, Sainsbury's and Mothercare are all set to take part in the campaign, along with 14 shopping centres run by intu around the country.
Lloyds Banking Group is also set to take part by spending the hour educating their employees to support autistic customers. Those looking to find places near them taking part can check out the autistic society's interactive map of participating stores.
Matt Davis, father to 9-year-old Isaac, who is autistic, said: "Noise, lighting and crowds are all triggers for Isaac so either we avoid shops altogether or we have to put in a great deal of preparation to ensure Isaac doesn't become overwhelmed.
"Unfortunately, my wife and I find that the stress doesn't stop with having to pay close attention to Isaac's sensory overloads, we also have to take into account the public's perception of Isaac's behaviour and that can be difficult... The idea of having specific 'Autism Hours' where the triggers of sensory overloads are reduced would make life so much easier and would allow Isaac to prepare effectively."
A survey from the National Autistic Society found that 64% of people with autism avoid going to shopping areas and 28% had been asked to leave public places for reasons related to their autism
"We are encouraging autistic adults, children and their families to head to the interactive map on our website so they can plan visits to local shops and businesses and enjoy a break from the overload of too much information." said Mark Level, chief executive of the National Autistic Society.
"It is incredible to see that over 4,500 stores across the UK are taking part in this new event and we hope to build on this year on year."