Lazily copied from the Leicester Mercury
Clarks shoe retailer has been quietly making changes to it’s range of shoes and the experience of shoe-buying much easier for autistic children just lately. As a parent of an autistic child, this comes as music to my ears and I’m sure lots of other parents too.
Many parents of children with a diagnosis of autism will know that a visit to the shoe store can be extremely stressful, and many times made even worse by having to leave before a pair of shoes can even be purchased.
Type in “Clarks Shoes” on Facebook and you’ll see many posts made recently by satisfied parents of autistic children who have had a positive experience just recently. The changes Clarks have made may seem subtle, but make such a difference.
A recent post on Facebook by Nicola Davis said: “I have just spent the last 10 minutes sobbing in my local clarks as they have just launched shoes for autistic / children with sensory problems, which are as light as a feather have no extra textures, Velcro fastening even for adult sizes, soft insoles etc…. for the last god knows how many years I have dreaded shoe shopping with my eldest son (11) even getting his feet measured is a complete nightmare. Today I walked in with my usual look of dread and the sales assistant who has helped us over the years put her arm around me and Said ‘I think I may have the answer this year – he won’t be in sketchers and will have waterproof school shoes’ She brought them out and for the 1st time in my memory my son reluctantly (after a lot of persuasion) put them on and then started running and jumping around the store smiling! I broke down, my 10 year old daughter started crying too (saying that no shoe had hit my head) as did the sales assistant!!!! I can’t explain how I feel but emotional is a start x Thankyou Clarks, these are the 1st correctly fitted shoe he’s had in over 4 years.”
We spoke to Clarks in Leicester and they confirmed that the service has been rolled across to the Leicester stores in the city centre and Fosse Park also. This is what they had to say: “We are delighted this customer has found a shoe which her son finds comfortable and suits his needs. We offer a wide selection of styles, sizes and widths, and our team of trained fitters always ensure that our shoes fit well and can advise on the most appropriate style for any child’s needs.”
“Every store manager has been trained in providing appropriate and bespoke customer service to all of our customers, including those with autism, in training devised in conjunction with the National Autistic Society. We are also taking part in ‘National Quiet Hour’ in October, when retailers will undertake a number of measures to make the store environment less overwhelming, including adjusting music and other noise and dimming lights. All of our UK and RoI stores will run a quiet environment for the first hour of opening of w/c October 2nd.”
“Earlier this year we began to operate a quiet service in a number of our stores and staff in those stores have also had additional training to meet the needs of autistic people. We’ve had great feedback from consumers about this service and we love to hear their positive experiences.”
LittleBlueCup adds – The shoes are part of Clarks main range and go by the name of Hula Yo Gore-Tex.