I am writing to urge shops and businesses in Ayrshire to help make our community more autism-friendly by holding Autism Hours throughout the second week of October (5-12).

The National Autistic Society Scotland’s Autism Hour sees shops and services across Scotland and the rest of the UK dim their lights, turn down music and share information about autism with staff and customers.

Being autistic means seeing, hearing and feeling the world in a different, often more intense way to other people. Many of us take a trip to the shops for granted but for autistic people it can be an overwhelming, difficult and daunting experience.

Research by our charity revealed that 64 per cent of autistic people avoid the shops and 28 per cent have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism.

Since we launched Autism Hour in 2017, nearly 17,000 shops and businesses have taken part and there have been over 40,000 hours with some stores committing to regular quiet hours all year long.

The National Autistic Society Scotland wants a world that works for autistic people. By signing-up to Autism Hour, businesses in Ayrshire can help to open-up the high street for the 58,000 autistic people and their families in Scotland.

I encourage local shops and business to get involved and find out more by visiting www.autism.org.uk/autismhour.

Yours faithfully,

Nick Ward

Director of the National Autistic Society Scotland