Getting together with a few friends for a drink is a good way to spend time with loved ones and relax. For those with autism, though, the sensory experience at a pub can often be a bit too much. That’s why one pub in England decided to have special quiet nights and be a more welcoming space for neurodivergent patrons.
The Little Hop in Swindon started holding their ‘Quiet Nights Out’ earlier this year. Manager Mel Hughes was inspired to create these events after working with people with autism in schools and residential settings.
She says, “I worked in alternative education and Asperger’s care, and it occurred to me that there wasn’t anywhere for people to go. It was made specifically as a safe space. The first couple, we only had a few people come and we had a lot people come with their carers. They are now getting more confident, which is nice.”
The nights offer an environment with no music or loud noises, dim lighting, and no string lights. The goal is to stop the space from causing sensory overload, while providing a comfortable place to socialize. However, it’s morphed a bit for some.
Hughes says, “As people have started coming, they have decided to have some music on. It’s a safe space – they can decide what they want to do. If you want to have your headphones on, that’s fine, if you want to dance about, that’s fine. Just come and be yourself and have fun.”
As the pub has shared on its Instagram, plenty of patrons have appreciated the monthly tradition. The business makes sure to send out regular reminders on each event as the day comes closer, pointing out that anyone who likes things a bit more quiet is welcome. They even made a theme out of a recent quiet night, hosting a Hawaiian luau with a silent disco. That encouraged patrons to bring headphones to have music to dance to, if they wished.
Among those who has stopped by regularly on these special nights is Puk Blundell.
She says, “It’s really nice because in a lot of pubs in the evening it does get quite loud with music and maybe the sport being on. What a lot of people don’t know about autism is that loud noises actually do hurt, it does cause us a lot of pain. So being able to go to a public place and not feel that pain is really great.”
If you’d like to learn more about The Little Hop, or if you’re interested in attending one of these quiet nights, check them out on Instagram.Whizzco