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Representatives from Autismo en Positivo and Acerv. SUR
Costa del Sol town signs pioneering agreement to assist shoppers with autism spectrum disorders
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Costa del Sol town signs pioneering agreement to assist shoppers with autism spectrum disorders

Asociación Autismo en Positivo and Rincón de la Victoria employers' association will be providing training for businesses and signs as well as pictograms in establishments

José Rodríguez Cámara

Rincón de la Victoria

Tuesday, 18 June 2024, 12:23

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If loud music, flashing lights or a long queue to pay in a shop is frustrating for most, the problem is multiplied many times over for a person with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), and especially for children.

"With maturity, those who have an ASD learn to more or less manage the problems involved, although they still suffer, but in children, it is more complicated," explained the president of Autismo en Positivo, Rocío Calderón.

Now the organisation has signed a pioneering agreement with the Association of Traders and Businesses of Rincón de la Victoria (ACERV), which includes more than three hundred members representing a wide range of activities.

What does this mean in practice? The establishments that have signed the agreement will have signs that show they are ‘ASD friendly’ and managers are to receive training. Furthermore, the establishments will have pictograms which outline what a client is going to find when they are in the establishment, which is very useful for a person with ASD, "who needs routines and control in their day to day," explains Calderón.

Hostile spaces

José Antonio Villodres, president of Acerv, highlights that in this way good customer service is established in local businesses which will allow a service adapted to the needs of everybody. By simply taking into account guidelines such as where possible not making someone with ASD have to queue to pay, addressing noise and music levels, avoiding eye contact and refraining from making comments or asking questions that could be misleading or have double meanings can be very beneficial.

"Unfortunately spaces sometimes become hostile to people with autism and their families. Just doing the shopping, something so routine, can become an arduous and complicated task," reflects the president of Autismo en Positivo. The head of Acerv emphasises that by taking this step the employers' association "simply behaves according to the needs it observes in the municipality".

While Rincón de la Victoria is the first town to take these steps and sign such an agreement, Autismo en Positivo say they have also held talks with the ministry of commerce to promote similar agreements throughout the province.

The association values the importance of such agreements which provide autism-friendly spaces and environments where people on the autism spectrum are identified and recognised.

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