Parents welcome quiet hour in Clarkson store for kids with autism


Parents Paula Ryder and Jackson Hamlin, Therapy Focus therapists Katie Sala Tenna and Laura Edmonds, children Jack and Phoenix Hamlin with The Good Guys staff member Grant Girdwood.
Jack Hamlin (centre) during the Quiet Hour shopping session.
Parents Paula Ryder and Jackson Hamlin, Therapy Focus therapists Katie Sala Tenna and Laura Edmonds, children Jack and Phoenix Hamlin with The Good Guys staff member Grant Girdwood. Jack Hamlin (centre) during the Quiet Hour shopping session.

A CLARKSON appliance store hosted a shopping ‘quiet hour’ for people with autism and sensory processing issues last month.

TVs were switched off, fluorescent lights dimmed and speakers disconnected when The Good Guys Clarkson store held its first ever ‘Quiet Hour’ on September 21.

Recognising that the average shopping experience could be overwhelming for someone with autism, the store partnered with disability service provider Therapy Focus to make shopping more accessible.

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Store executive Dinesh Mepani said he was excited to offer the experience to customers after seeing how well received a trial had been at a store in South Australia.

“Our store manager’s son has autism and receives support from Therapy Focus, so we approached the organisation to support our own ‘quiet hour’ event,” he said.

“On the evening our team dimmed the fluorescent lights, turned off TVs, computers and music to help create the best possible shopping experience.”

Therapy Focus chief executive Matt Burrows said such events could help make shopping more manageable for families of children with sensory processing issues.

“Going shopping with children can be a stressful experience for any family, but when your child is overly sensitive to lights, sounds and smells, it can be really overwhelming,” he said.

“Having a shopping hour that takes this into account for people with autism and sensory processing issues is mutually beneficial, because people with disabilities and their families can choose to spend their money at businesses who value their custom.”

Paula Ryder attended the event with her family, including son Jake who has autism.

Ms Ryder said the Therapy Focus staff were a great support and the resources, such as social stories and fiddle toys, helped keep Jake relaxed.

“Normally Jake would run off when hearing loud sounds in stores, but it was such a calm and relaxing environment for him,” she said.

“It was great experience for our family. ‘Quiet hours’ are a great idea and more stores should be doing it.”

Mr Burrows said it was “an important step to making shopping inclusive and accessible for all”.