Information for Journalists/Editors

  1. Notes for Editors
  2. Link to the Event
  3. Quotes from the Research Team
  4. Quotes from Participants
  5. Press Pack
  6. Infographic
  7. Poster Boards
  8. Images (click on image for link to media file)

Notes for Editors

Media Contact at the University of Oxford:
Chris McIntyre, Media Relations Manager (research and Innovation),
Public Affairs Directorate, University of Oxford,
phone 01865 280534

Media Contact at the University of Reading
University of Reading Press Office 
0118 378 5757

Experimental Psychology Department, University of Oxford Boilerplate
The University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology Department’s mission is to conduct world-leading experimental research to understand the psychological and neural mechanisms relevant to human behaviour. Wherever appropriate, we translate our findings into evidence-based public benefits in mental health and well-being, education, industry, and policy. Key areas of research include Behavioural Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, and Psychological and Brain Health. 

University of Reading Boilerplate
The University of Reading’s School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences is at the forefront of ground-breaking research into the inner workings of the mind. It is home to two NHS-partnered clinics as well as an independent Centre for Autism, which uses a range of techniques to explore autism and support the development of clinical interventions.

Funding Bodies
This project is funded by a Wellcome Trust Enriching Engagement Grant (204685/Z/16/Z)

Ethical Approval Reference
Central University Research Ethics Committee (CUREC) Approval Reference: R74960/RE001 (University of Oxford)

Quotes from the Research Team

  • It’s very important to create awareness of sensory processing difficulties as they are a key part of what makes the world quite a disabling and uninviting place for autistic people – Emily, Research Collaborator @21andsensory
  • We want to show people how making small changes today could make a big difference for autistic people tomorrow – Catherine Woolley, Research and Engagement Officer

Quotes from Participants

  • I think a common misconception is that… all autistic people are the same and have the same sensory triggers, which just isn’t true. Like, what might affect someone pretty badly doesn’t affect someone else at all…
  • what could affect an autistic person one time, doesn’t bother them the next time because it depends on like what other stuff is going on for them… it’s a lot more down to the individual and the circumstances at the time
  • What makes a supermarket challenging I think is… just the noise… you can just hear everything, so you hear people, you hear like beeping, you hear like people pushing stuff, like you just hear everything. It’s very overwhelming
  • I always envisage it is a big spider web of things that might affect me in a sensory environment, and I want to say to people, it’s about actually looking at all those little things that build up…
  • think that having like a quiet room can apply to like so many different places, even places like concerts… I think a lot of people might think, well, if you have these sound sensitivities then why would you be going to a concert. But I think that we should have, like the equal opportunity to still like enjoy those things, but also have kind of, a backup area if we get overwhelmed
  • I think neurotypical people don’t realise that when we’re trying not to show a sensory environment is affecting us, because we don’t want to be perceived to be “difficult” about asking for the lights to be turned off or for the radio to be turned down, it really drains us
  • I never go out to eat anymore. The environment is just too loud. The layering of noises, such as people chatting on top of coffee machines or plates clashing is really difficult
  • You know, just being able to have an option of like turning the self-checkout voice off, like, I sometimes don’t need that extra stimulation, that could be the one thing that makes me feel like I can lose it sometimes with a meltdown, often just being able to just have control over those sounds would be great
  • I love going to bookshops. They tend to be quite quiet and particularly ones where the shelves are all quite spaced out from each other, so you’re not kind of crammed in against other people
  • My local [supermarket], I’ve gone there for like 7 years and they’ve never changed the layout, and so I’ve always found [this supermarket] actually alright. I know where we go, we go around the same way every time, we get basically the same things. A couple of weeks ago they completely changed the layout, and I went in… and I just walked straight out
  • There needs to be more definite source of information, ‘cause I feel like you can Google how to make shops more accessible for autistic people and you kind of get the same advice often and often it’s not very comprehensive or that educational, that there’s a lot of diversity within autism. It often says this is what the things that people with autism need, but actually often it’s a big spectrum of people and I think this definitely, if even it’s government issued as well, would be really helpful
  • I’d love them [neurotypical people] to know how my stress levels rise on public transport when I can hear everyone’s music leaking from their headphones, people watching videos without headphones, and people’s loud conversations. Or how I feel physically sick when I smell their strong perfumes and deodorants, cigarette smoke etc. It’s not just dislike. It zaps me.
  • [neurotypical people do not understand] That all noise is different! I can’t stand the noise of ‘chatter’ – but music I can listen to full blast in my headphones.
  • …A [theatre] matinee with hardly anyone there is pretty perfect. It’s nice and cool and I can sit and focus and not have many people around
  • I avoid places with too many stimulants. I can go to the pub but clubbing is out of the question. Restaurants are fine but cafeteria is no go. I like go to birthdays but not if I can’t have a place to go if it all gets to [sic] much
  • Hospitals are terrible, they have the brightest fluorescent lights, are incredibly noisy and have a lot of chemical/disinfectant smells. The machine sounds are the worst, if I’m in a hospital room I can hear machines several rooms away (good luck sleeping at all)
  • The high street [is challenging] for me. Especially ones with lots of cafés on. The smell of food quickly gets overwhelming. Combined with lots of people walking at me, traffic and trying to find where I’m going makes it very challenging
  • There’s all the things sensory things in a supermarket, the noises, the air conditioning, the cold fridges, but you can manage that when you know what’s coming, and it’s easier

Press Pack

For more information about the event and a summary of the research project, please see our press pack (below)


Poster Boards

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