- Between 5-17% of the general population process sensory information differently meaning that everyday experiences like visiting the supermarket can be overwhelming.
- Sensory processing differences are more common in autistic people. Autism is a developmental condition associated with differences in the way people communicate and experience the world. Approximately 1-2% of people worldwide are autistic, and studies suggest that up to 90% of autistic people have sensory processing differences.
- However, a 2021 survey by Sensory Integration Education found that less than 10% of the general public had a strong knowledge of the concepts sensory integration or sensory processing and 36% had never heard of either term.
Researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Reading – in collaboration with awareness-raising organisation Sensory Spectacle – are hosting an innovative event called Sensory Supermarket as part of the Sensory Street research project. This free event is an opportunity for retailers and other public-facing businesses to explore the adaptations that they could make to support autistic customers in their spaces. It will take place 19-20 August at PEARL in Dagenham.
Dr Cathy Manning, Principal Investigator who conducted the research at the Universities of Oxford and Reading, said, “This event was designed in collaboration with autistic people, who told us that supermarkets present the biggest sensory challenges to them. It’s the first event of its kind and aims to show how spaces like these could be transformed to be more accessible.”