Kilkenny city shopping centre first in Ireland to host Autism friendly shopping hour

Star attraction was Niamh Dunne

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

Market Cross, Kilkenny supports people with autism

Some of those who turned for Autism hour at the Market Cross Shopping Centre in Kilkenny city

Autism is a condition that affects up to 1.5% of the population of children and adults in Ireland. This means that here may be up to 1,500 people in Kilkenny who would qualify for a diagnosis.
Add family and supporters and you have 5,000 potential customers in Kilkenny alone.
This year to mark World Autism Awareness Day 2018 all the shops in Market Cross made a special effort to be Autism Friendly together for one hour.
SuperValu stores all over Ireland including Kilkenny have been leading the campaign to make shopping more “Autism Friendly” but on that day all the other shops in Market Cross also got on board. It is belived to be the first such initiative of its kind in Ireland.
A great crowd turned out for the event and there was a real buzz about the Centre as people tested their knowledge with the fun Quiz and posted their entries for prizes donated by shops in the Market Cross.
The Art & Hobby Shop put up a fabulous display of blue and white in their window with a lovely banner displaying the slogan from the autism website “As I Am” – meaning don’t try to fix me but accept me “As I Am” – the message from autistic people and their families across the globe. Dubray also books had a lovely display of autism related books on show.
Therapist, Krisztina Dragoman gave a demonstration of ‘sound therapy’ and its benefits for deep relaxation while chatting to people about Kilkenny ASD Families Support Group.
The star attraction was Niamh Dunne who made a guest appearance under the blue and white balloon arch sponsored by Market Cross, wearing the outfit that got her to the regional finals of the Junk Couture competition. She is the first student from her school, School Of The Holy Spirit, to do so.
Coordinating the event, Lesley Cleere of Market Cross, asked shops to lower the music and lights and disseminated training material provided by the KITE Service on being autism aware and sensitive to the challenges and opportunities of having customers on the spectrum.
There was an information stand on a range of local autism specific, friendly or aware services for adults. Professionals from KITE, RehabCare, NLN and Beam Services used the opportunity to meet parents and disseminate information on the wide range of services available to adults on the ASD spectrum.