A trip to the supermaket often proves traumatic for five-year-old Leo Reseigh.
The Campbelltown boy was diagnosed with level-two autism earlier this year, with a developmental delay and high anxiety.
But a new weekly ‘Quiet Hour’ session offered at Coles has made grocery shopping easier for people, like Leo, who have conditions such as autism.
Quiet Hour promotes reduced noise and lighting in store for 60 minutes from 10.30am each Tuesday morning.
Participating Coles stores in the Illawarra include Helensburgh, Corrimal, Wollongong and Figtree.
Leo’s mum Cindy Reseigh said the initiative would make going to the shops easier for her family.
“Shopping with Leo can be full-on,” she said.
“He doesn’t like the lights, when it’s too loud or when there are too many people around.
“Leo gets overwhelmed and sometimes wants to throw everything off the shelves. People think your kid is having a tantrum for attention but it’s a genuine problem.”
Ms Reseigh thanked Coles for introducing the low-sensory shopping experience each week.
“It’s great to see and shows they’re looking after the kids that really need it,” she said.
The Macarthur Autism Spectrum Family Support Group Facebook page has also thrown its support behind Quiet Hour.
Group coordinator Julie Murphy said shopping could be daunting for children who have autism.
“My son has autism and he couldn’t stand the light reflecting off the floors at supermarkets when he was younger,” she said.
“It’s a fantastic initiative by Coles.”
However, Ms Murphy hoped the supermarket giant would expand the initiative in the future.
“A lot of parents work on Tuesday mornings and can’t take go shopping so hopefully they will extend the Quiet Hour times,” she said.
Coles launched the initiative at 20 NSW stores last November and brought the program into an additional 56 supermarkets earlier this month.
Camden, Harrington Park and Macarthur Square’s Coles stores offer Quiet Hour each Tuesday from 10.30am to 11.30am.
Coles Camden store manager Tim Daley said his team was proud to support the program.
“We’ve already had some good customer feedback and there is a great sense of pride from our team to run the initiative,” he said.
“It’s quite peaceful in a large retail shop when the music is turned down and the lights are dimmed.”