Top Tips for an Autism Friendly Shopping Experience
We understand that visiting a busy shopping centre can be a daunting and overwhelming experience for adults and children on the autism spectrum.
To help make your visit as enjoyable as possible, we have rounded up several top tips for an accessible shopping experience, in partnership with the North East Autism Society.
- Visit the centre during our dedicated quiet hours
On the first Tuesday of every month from 10am to 11am and the following Saturday 9am to 10am all year round. Our shops take simple steps where possible to create a more autism-accessible experience, such as turning down music and dimming bright lights. Read more about our Quiet Hours here.
- Plan your trip
Use our centre map here to plan your trip ahead of arriving. Planning ahead can help reduce unpredictability which may reduce anxiety. Try compiling a visual list and tick the shops off as you visit them.
- Wear a Sunflower Lanyard
Many of our shoppers choose to wear a sunflower lanyard; this helps retailers, and our staff identify that you are exempt from wearing a face covering and that you may need additional support.
- Wear sunglasses
The lighting can vary between stores, which can be visually overwhelming; sunglasses can help relieve the glare.
- Use your own coping mechanisms
Remembering your ear defenders; carrying a stress ball or fidget device could enable you to enjoy a shopping trip.
- Bring a bag
The weather can be unpredictable. Having a bag at the ready to hold a jacket if you are too hot, or to carry an extra layer if needed, should help you navigate this situation.
- Ask in advance about any changes that may be happening
Visit the Eldon Square website ahead of your trip, to keep up to date.
- Use Click and Collect services
This service helps you avoid the frustration of queues. Shoppers can simply place their order online and collect in-store. Please check individual brands website for more information.
- Ask us for assistance
If you need support during your visit, you can visit our customer service desk located next to Fenwick. You can also call the team on 0191 261 1891.
- Evaluate your experience
Review the experience after and provide us with feedback via social media or speak to a member of staff. We want to make sure you have a memorable shopping experience at all times.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Click here to find out how we’re keeping everyone who visits safe.
The North East Autism Society
The North East Autism Society has led the way in providing autism-specific care and education across the North-East of England for over 40 years. They began as a group of dedicated families determined to build a better future for their children and are still as passionate today as they were then. They provide excellent services for autistic and/or neurodivergent people and their families and have never lost sight of how and why they began.2