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John Lewis trials autism-friendly shoe fitting service for children

By Huw Hughes


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John Lewis & Partners has teamed up with the National Autistic Society to trial a new shoe fitting service for children with autism.

While many items of clothing can be bought online, shoes need to be fitted to each child individually, and the fitting experience can be especially difficult for children with autism.

In order to deliver a less stressful experience, the National Autistic Society has put together a bespoke training package for John Lewis’ employees and will offer training sessions on how to deliver the service effectively for both children and their parents.

With the trial, parents booking an appointment will be able speak to a trained employee at the Experience Desk either in store or over the phone to discuss their individual child’s needs and how the shop space can be altered to suit their needs. This could include adjusting the volume of shop music or suggesting particular walking routes through the shop.

The trials will initially be available at stores in Cheadle, Cribbs Causeway, White City, Bluewater and Southampton, before a wider roll-out is expected.

Caroline Bettis, head of buying, childrenswear, said in a statement: “It’s been fantastic working with the National Autistic Society on this service. Shoe fitting can be stressful enough for children and their parents but this experience can be even more challenging for autistic children. I hope this service will provide a less overwhelming environment which will help autistic children find the perfect pair of shoes.”

Tom Purser, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, added: “We are very pleased to have worked with John Lewis to develop this trial. We hear from autistic people and their families that busy public spaces can be challenging because of bright lights, amplified sounds, and crowds or queues can cause them to feel overwhelmed.

“Our research shows that 28 percent of autistic people have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism and 50 percent of autistic people and their families sometimes don’t go out because they are worried about how others might judge them.”

Photo credit: John Lewis & Partners

John Lewis
John Lewis & Partners