On Friday, I was doing my rounds at the local shops when I noticed a sign. It said that there will be a quiet hour from 3-4 for people who have Autism. It is sponsored by Autism Spectrum Australia. Basically, the shopping centre for one hour will have no noises, no music, no machines operating, and the staff will not talk unless necessary. This is an initiative that is designed to highlight the needs of people with Autism.
But to me, it is also a great way to educate the community on acceptance and inclusion and respect. Also, it does educate the staff. To me, it is a way for the community to embrace difference and in a very easy way provide an opportunity for a part of the community to feel accepted and to feel people care and value them.
I know as someone on the spectrum, shops and places like that can be hard to deal with. This sort of initiative is a great way to alleviate that. It is advertised on a lot of disability sites and a lot of disability service providers and carers use it and bring there clients along. For particular people with real challenges in this area, this is a way for them to go to the shops. Plus, it is a harmless adjustment and again is a very ‘ Unified’ way of doing things.
I think this would be a great initiative to try around the globe. To me, it is a very simple and easy way to further build the building blocks of a truly inclusive community.
Ben Haack is a Special Olympics Athlete Leader from Australia and the Athlete Representative Director of Special Olympics Australia Board.