Nov 24, 2019, Stuff: Quiet-shopping hours and autism-friendly events 'incredibly freeing', says Palmerston North mother https://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/117664741/quietshopping-hours-and-autismfriendly-events-incredibly-freeing-says-palmerston-north-mother Liberties are unlocking for families dealing with autism as a growing number of venues and spaces in Manawatū dim the lights and turn down the volume. The Countdown supermarket chain introduced low-sensory quiet hours nationwide in October, while Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North has an expanding programme of autism-friendly activities. Cloud 9 Trampoline Park and the Jedi Skateboard Academy both have regular low-sensory sessions with limited entry numbers, and The Plaza shopping mall is considering following Countdown's lead. Too many sensations, sounds, and people can be stressful and overwhelming for children on the autism spectrum, such as Pou Nesbit, 8, who was enjoying a low-sensory session at Cloud 9 in Palmerston North on Sunday. … Pou Nesbit, 8, loves physical activity but his autism means he can get overwhelmed by crowds and noise at public parks. Having a safe, controlled space to play like Cloud 9 Trampoline Park's low-sensory sessions, is life-changing. … Autism New Zealand chief executive Dane Dougan said such efforts were overwhelmingly positive, giving people on the autism spectrum more options to get out into the community. The agency would be happy to consult with The Plaza, and had already helped two other malls. Te Manawa chief executive Andy Lowe said the museum introduced an autism-friendly version of its Lego stop-motion movie-making class, Brick Flicks, to its school holiday programme. The sessions were held in the evenings, when the fewest people were in the museum, which also let children and their family explore other exhibits in comfort. "It went fantastic, and the sessions filled up fast and we're definitely intending to do more like those." Lowe said the museum was slowly building towards having low-sensory sessions for every exhibit and event possible.