Parents of children with autism have welcomed the weekly ‘Quiet Hour’ at Coles supermarket at Altona Meadows.

Coles worked with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to roll out quiet hour at 68 stores nationwide.

Every Tuesday from 10.30-11.30am, lighting will be halved, radios switched off, register and scanner … volumes reduced and no trolleys will be removed from the shop floor.

PA announcements will be cut except in emergency and additional customer support staff will be available.

Elizabeth Websdale, an Altona Meadows mother of two teenagers with autism, said when her children were younger they could become really upset and overwhelmed by sounds, noise and crowds when shopping.

“I used to shop sometimes late at night when they were in bed and their dad could watch them instead,” she said. “Some single parent families don’t have that option.

“My son couldn’t handle all the bright fluorescent lights in some stores. I would put a cap and sunglasses on him to make the bright lighting bearable.

“My daughter even now often wears headphones to cancel out some of the noise.”

Angela Hickey-Sorbello, a Werribee mother of a son with autism, praised the move.

“It’s great to see a big chain such as Coles leading the way,” she said.

“I hope this is the start of things to come for all people on the autism spectrum.”