Sign up for news    Find out more

Shopping: Open from 9 am until 7 pm

Getting Here

Quiet Hours

From Autism to Dementia, this hour is for anyone who prefers a more quiet setting within Eldon Square.

 

In support of North East Autism Society, we host regular quiet hours every Tuesday from 10am to 11am and every Saturday 9am – 10am all year round. Our shops take simple steps where possible to create a more autism-friendly experience, such as turning down music and dimming bright lights.

From autism to dementia, this hour is for anyone who prefers a more quiet setting within Eldon Square. Where possible, we’ll turn down the music, dim the lights and our staff will be on hand with guides to the centre that may be of use.

Our Quiet Hours

Our quiet hours will run every Tuesday and every Saturday of every month.

Eldon Square Quiet Hours 2024

Saturday 13 April 9am – 10am
Tuesday 16 April 10am – 11am
Saturday 20 April 9am  – 10am
Tuesday 23 April 10am – 11am
Saturday 27 April 9am – 10am
Tuesday 30 April 10am – 11am
Saturday 4 May 9am – 10am
Tuesday 7 May 10am – 11am
Saturday 11 May 9am – 10am

 

Plan your trip ahead of time with our Autism Friendly Guide in partnership with the North East Autism Society. View our guide here.

5 Top Tips for Shopping with Autistic Children

“Having an autistic child is a unique gift; getting to see how their brilliant brain works in different ways is so rewarding. However, this also means that some things such as going shopping may be an overwhelming experience.” – BigWLittleW

That is why, we have collaborated with North East Instagram blogger, BigWLittleW to put together top tips for shopping with Autistic children.

Have a Plan

Having a plan is the first step towards a successful shopping trip. Create a mental outline of where you might want to visit, in what order and for how long, and download a shopping centre map beforehand if you can. For a parent, it’s one less thing to think about while on the move, and depending on the age of the child, knowledge of this plan can serve as a reassurance.

Adopt a ‘now-and-next’ approach, signposting where you are going to and then what is next. This gives as sense of predictability.

Before you head out, get ahead of the unpredictable British weather and where possible,  dress your child in layers. Layering is ideal as it means that your child will be comfortable going from the outside cold into the heat of the shops; some children with sensory issues find temperature fluctuations uncomfortable – so prior planning can pay dividends.

Oh, and make sure to pack plenty of snacks – whether to distract your child or fortify yourself – they’re always handy.

Confidence

Next,  have absolute confidence in both your children and your parenting ability. We are never at our best when we are anxious, and this is never more true than when we are trying to navigate a busy town centre with both arms and hands full, all while having to balance children and making decisions simultaneously. Children can and do pick up on your emotions, so if they pick up on your anxieties, they will swiftly follow suit. Take a breath; you will get through this – you’ve made it this far, have faith!

Sensory Stimulation

Visual aids can be helpful to show your child where you’re going, helping to reassure their concerns and keep them busy. Some children with autism find the sensory stimulation associated with a touch screen device very reassuring, so taking one along can either act as a distraction or act as a way to encourage positive behaviour.

Fidget toys, just like transitional toys, are excellent for grounding an anxious child. A toy, or item, that your child is particularly attached to can help them to regulate themselves and soothe any stress. Egg timers can also provide visual stimulation by showing your child how long you are likely to be at a given destination.  If your child finds shopping overwhelming, building up the time you spend at each location may be helpful. This will help to teach your child that if they are overwhelmed by a certain environment, there will be a change of scenery coming soon.

Choose the Right Destination

Selecting the right destination for your household is important.  Choose environments where there are a diverse array of shops in addition to some tasty food options, to build an overall positive experience.

Opting to visit during shopping centre dedicated quiet hours are more accommodating to those with a neurodivergence really makes a huge difference. Quiet hours with no music and dimmed lighting are great, as are shops that support shoppers wearing the sunflower lanyard as a signifier that they may need additional support while shopping. Sensory bags filled with a selection of toys, visual aids, egg timers and ear defenders provide a much-needed lifeline if your child gets bored or overwhelmed.

Don’t be Afraid to Change Plan

Even with a plan B, C and even D, it can sometimes be necessary to be completely agile and to know when to scrap your plan. There’s no shame in it; just make sure to keep rewarding good behaviour and keeping an eye on your child’s needs. Popping in at the end of a shopping trip to buy a little treat is a perfect way to leave a positive association in your child’s mind.

To plan ahead for your trip to Eldon Square and check out our accessibility information here

Autism Acceptance Week

Eldon Square has joined forces with the North East Autism Society, as we help to elevate autistic voices for this year’s Autism Acceptance Week. To demonstrate our support, we will place large illuminated light letters in Lower Grey’s Quarter opposite Tortilla spelling out the word Acceptance from Monday 27 March to Sunday 2 April.

We will be asking you, our shoppers, to take pictures in front of the word Acceptance to help spread the campaign’s message and to highlight  ‘Everyday Equality’ using the hashtags #Everydayequality #EldonsqAcceptance on social media platforms. Don’t forget your phones and cameras so you can take yours!

Autism Week Schedule:

This year’s campaign aims to highlight ‘Everyday Equality’ whilst raising awareness of autism, neurodiversity and equal opportunities.

  • On Friday 31 March, the North East Autism Society will be in centre from 11am -4pm at Upper Grey’s Quarter, opposite Chatime to share information and answer any questions.
  • An additional Quiet Hour will take place on Tuesday 28 March 10am -11am and Saturday 25 March 9am -10am to support our shoppers that enjoy a more peaceful setting.

Autism Friendly Shopping Guide:

Eldon Squares supports customers with neurodivergent by providing autism-friendly guides in partnership with the North East Autism Society. The guide will provide support in planning a visit to the centre to what we have available to ensure your experience on the day is enjoyable.

To download your booklet, please click here.

Sensory Bag:

Did you know you can hire a sensory bag for a refundable £20 deposit from the Fenwick Customer Service desk? This bag has been designed by parents and supported by the North East Autism Society. In addition to the sensory bag, shoppers can collect a Sunflower Lanyard, which supports with hidden disabilities. By wearing the lanyard, our staff and retailers will identify customers who may need a little more assistance or time when shopping. The lanyards are available from our customer service desk (outside Fenwick).

Find out more about our accessible shopping experiences at Eldon Square here.

Autism Acceptance