Friday, February 24, 2017
Local Businesses Cater to Autistic Visitors
Dimmed lights, loosened rules:
Growing number of businesses cater to autistic visitors
(STAT News) - Toy stores are dimming the lights and turning off the music. A ferris wheel is letting children and their parents stay on as long as they want. And cinemas are letting patrons wander around the theater if they don’t want to stay in their seat.
Those patrons are individuals with autism.
It’s “the equivalent of building wheelchair ramps or accessible bathrooms, except it’s for cognitive disabilities, rather than physical disabilities,” said Steve Silberman, autism expert and author of a book on the history of the condition.
Autism is sometimes accompanied by a heightened sensitivity to light, color, noise, and smells, which can cause anxiety or physical pain in individuals with the condition. But as general awareness of autism grows, more private businesses are changing their practices during select times to accommodate individuals with autism.
Some of the forerunners of the trend have been retailers. For individuals with autism, a trip to the store, with its bright lights and blaring background music, can be paralyzing. So, stores across the US and around the world have experimented with toning down the stimuli.