The “Joys”of Autistic shopping. 

Theres a myth that men don’t enjoy shopping. 

I say it’s a myth because I really think it depends what you’re shopping for. Or if you are shopping for yourself. 

But…

It’s not enjoyable watching your other half take armloads of clothes into the changing room and emerge every five minutes with a “ Well ?, what do you think ?”, only to respond with a forceful “Really ?” when you tell them they look fine, or great, or gorgeous. 

Its not enjoyable when they prevaricate over every card for every Christmas, birthday and anniversary and change their minds after each selection. 

And it’s certainly not enjoyable when you get used to the layout of a store so you know where everything is …..and then you go in the next week and it’s all changed. 

I understand sales; I understand the concept of seasonal changes in style but I don’t understand (and here I am referring to you Marks & Spencer!) this constant obsession with putting up high “walls” and moving displays so that every visit becomes some sort of “Escape from the Maze” adventure!. 

I absolutely hate it. It’s not Autism friendly. It’s confusing, chaotic and, when your partner vanishes into the sea of clothing and movable walls so you can’t find her, it brings on meltdowns!!!!. 

M&S is one of my partners favourite haunts so it’s a regular stop off but, in recent times, it’s become more and more difficult to spend the amount of time in there that she would like to. It’s become a confusing mass of jumbled colours, mostly nightmarish, crammed in so tightly that the store is not only an ever changing mess but a claustrophobic one as well. 

People fight through the narrow clothes avenues, you get jostled and barged, clothes fall to the floor as they spring off the overloaded displays like lemmings jumping off a cliff edge. Nobody picks them up so they are trampled underfoot. Staff stand about wTching with idle fascination as the heaving mass of humanity thrust their way through the latest Autumnal fashions!.

For someone Autistic it’s now a deeply painful experience on every sensory level. The lightings harsh, the store is cramped, the staff are idle and unhelpful and when you think you know exactly where to find that pair of jeans, you know, the ones that fit and feel right, you move them and hide them somewhere between dressing gowns and exotic house plants!. 

It’s painful when you know you can be in and out in ten minutes maximum yet you spend thirty panicky minutes searching desperately for what was right here! last week!!. 

It’s not hard. 

You want to move things ?. Okay, give us a map, signpost where things are, reduce the height of the movable walls so we can actually see where things are. Since almost everything seems to end up in a sale (or several) why not reduce the amount of stuff in the store to begin with ?. I mean, you know what doesn’t sell, right ?. Stop making it so cramped. 

Oh, and please do something about the perfumes ?. Sure some smell quite nice but too many people seem to use a whole tester bottle and walking around or through the miasma of conflicting odours can be vomit inducing!.

There’s so much talk about Autism these days but so few companies or organisations seem to have the most basic understanding of how they could help us and make everyday experiences more palatable. 

The joys of Autistic shopping…

No, not really..

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