Scally’s SuperValu in Clonakilty, Co Cork, was the first supermarket to hold an autism-friendly evening in its store two years ago.
Since then just under 40 stores in the leading Irish supermarket chain have introduced autism-friendly shopping times.
As well as autism-friendly trolleys, SuperValu, together with the Middletown Centre for Autism in Northern Ireland, has designed a series of initiatives to be rolled out in stores over the coming months.
More stores will have sensory-friendly times and families will be able to use store maps to pre-plan their visit.
There will be downloadable store sounds to de-stress the store visit and beep sounds on tills will be reduced and standardised.
An online autism awareness educational programme that will be offered to all staff also outlines how the steps taken in the store will make a difference.
SuperValu has appointed an expert panel to ensure that the initiatives are having a positive impact on families that have children with autism and are relevant.
Supermarkets will dim the lights, cut the music, and turn off any loudspeaker announcements during autism-friendly shopping times.
Scally’s SuperValu announced in November 2015 that it would hold an autism-friendly shopping evening in its store.
Store owner, Eugene Scally, responded to a suggestion from a local woman who was a student in autism studies at University College Cork.
Patricia O’Leary, originally from Dublin but who has been living in Clonakilty for more than 20 years, made the request.
Mr Scally was delighted at the number of people who welcomed the initiative.
SuperValu marketing director, Des O’Mahony, said that they wanted to create a mindset change as well as an infrastructural one.