Thought I would do a really quick post about the suggestions for Manor Walks to become autism friendly.  Background is we had a bad experience with a security guard there, we complained and Manor Walks met with me to tell me their plans for a better shopping experience for people with autism and asked for my suggestions. Alongside Lesley Cole who founded Autism Northumberland and the North East Autism Society I’m hopeful for great changes.

The security staff have already has some training around autism which is great. There has been many emails with lots of different ideas of what would work well.

The most popular idea was a calming sensory area within Manor Walks to be used when things just become too much.

An evening where music would be turned off, tannoy announcements an absolute minimum, lighting dropped etc.  Shopping without sensory overload.  Manor Walks are talking to Lesley at Autism Northumberland already about this.

Personally one of the most difficult aspects of shopping with Reilly is stopping him running off, keeping him safe, avoiding meltdowns and finally actually being able to manage carrying the bags.  These shopping trolleys are popping up more often and I think they would be a great introduction. To my knowledge Sainsburys has one as do Asda.  It would be great to see Manor Walks take ownership of more of these trolleys and that they can be used throughout the whole shopping centre.

Changing spaces are so important not just to children with autism to many children and adults with special needs.   Hand dryers are enemy number 1 for Reilly.  As he gets bigger he is becoming increasingly harder to change, he is too big for drop down changing stations and will do a runner minus pants at any given opportunity.  I cannot imagine how carers manage with an older, larger child/adult.  A changing bed would solve many problems for many people. You should NEVER have to change a child/adult on a toilet floor.

Staff awareness not just with security but also within the shops or representatives from each shop.

Parking spaces and timings.

Much more still to be discussed but thought I’d just let you know there is progress and what the most popular suggestions are.

I’m looking forward to a catch up with Manor Walks and Autism Northumberland very soon. Please continue to send your suggestions.