THE FIRST shop in Bracknell to sign up to a new autism-friendly initiative has been announced.

On the week of October 2 Clarks in Princess Square will dim its lights, turn down music and share information about autism for 60 minutes.

Organised by The National Autistic Society, the UK's first autism hour is attempting to provide a calmer atmosphere that is more pleasant to shop in for people with autism.

Clarks is the first Bracknell shop to be announced as taking part, but it is hoped lots of others follow suit.

Mark Lever, Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society, said: “Like anyone, autistic people and their families want the opportunity to go to the shops and services on the high street. But our research suggests that many find the often busy, loud and unpredictable environment of public places overwhelming and avoid them altogether.

"We hope that the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour will provide a break for families in the week and in the long term will help spread understanding so that shops and services are more accessible every day of the year.

“A basic understanding of autism could transform the lives of autistic people and their families and avoid them becoming isolated or trapped in their homes. I hope businesses in Bracknell will take part and help to make the local area more autism-friendly.”

The Society’s survey suggests 64 per cent of autistic people avoid going to the shops, and 28 per cent have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism.

The charity is asking shops and services to take simple steps for one hour to help create a more autism friendly world - from dimming the lights and turning down music to sharing information about autism with employees.

More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum which means that someone sees, hears and feels the world in a different, often more intense way to other people.

Autistic people often find social situations difficult and struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience which means they feel overwhelmed by ‘too much information’ when out in public.

Clarks and Toys ‘R’ Us are also amongst shops and services that have already signed up, after previously hosting quiet hours in individual stores. Lloyds Banking Group is also supporting by educating colleagues and customers about autism during Autism Hour. The charity is calling on others to follow their lead and open up their businesses to autistic people.

Local organisations can sign-up for Autism Hour and download a free information pack by visiting