Designed by parents supported by North East Autism Society, items include, egg timers, sunglasses, a variety of visual symbols, fidget toys and autism guides designed by the centre.
The sensory backpack which is available to hire from St Andrew’s Way and Fenwick customer service desk at intu Eldon Square is packed full of items to assist autistic children to enjoy their shopping experience.
Bags will be available to hire for £20 deposit (refundable when the bag is returned) Maximum hire hire time of 5 hours.
Clare Cannon, community manager at intu Eldon Square, said: “intu is already well known for the support offered to autistic customers, which includes specially-trained staff and autism-friendly guides.
“We understand that visiting a shopping centre can be an overwhelming therefore we hope that the sensory backpack will help reduce an increase anxiety to allow familiars an enjoyable experience at our centres.”
Kerrie Highcock, family development manager at North East Autism Society, said: “We’re so excited to be working in partnership with intu Eldon Square. “Visiting a shopping centre can be an overwhelming sensory experience for an autistic person, so the contents of the sensory backpack will help reduce the auditory and visual stimuli and hopefully lead to a more relaxed shopping experience.
We see this as on ongoing piece of work which will evolve, and we are really keen to work alongside families to gain feedback and add to the backpack wherever appropriate.”
The bags will be available from the centres today, limited to one bag per desk. To hire the bag for your visit customers are asked to leave a £20 refundable deposit which will be returned following their visit.
intu also introduced a ‘Quiet Hour’ initiative in 2017 offering families a more relaxed environment with low sounding music, dimmed lights, and useful shopping guides. Quiet Hour runs at intu Eldon Square on the first Tuesday of every month from 10am – 11am and first Saturday from 9am - 10am.