Joe in a play pen with his mum outside the door
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Autism-friendly event goes national

8 December 2014 Last updated at 17:37 GMT

A mother's campaign has led to toy stores around the country holding autism-friendly shopping sessions this Christmas.

Victoria Holdsworth has not been able to take her three-year-old autistic son, Joe, to large toy shops for fear of him having a public meltdown due to the busy environment. She says: "Children with autism often struggle with loud noises, strip lights and interacting with other children." It's much easier, she adds, when they are surrounded by young people who are having similar difficulties and who understand the situation.

After campaigning for more autism-friendly soft play and other events locally, she turned her attention to the local big toy shop to see if they could do something along the same lines. "I went to the store manager who was immediately responsive to the idea," says Holdsworth. "We agreed how it would work and I went away and put the details on my Facebook group." Within hours responses came from parents all round the country wanting their local store to be involved too.

Relaxed cinema and theatre performances for people with autism have grown in popularity in the last few years, but co-ordinating with Toys R Us, Victoria was able to arrange for all 61 of their stores in England to open their doors early one Sunday morning to families with children with autism.

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Video Journalist: Kate Monaghan

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