Coop Autism Project: let’s promote inclusion

Often, autistic people, of any age and cognitive level, do not feel comfortable doing grocery shopping in traditional stores that are arranged according to criteria that might not meet their needs. That’s why we worked to make our new Coop in Monza the first “Autism Friendly” in the large supermarket chains on global scale.

Thanks to the collaboration of PizzAut association, all the employees of the new store attended a course held by psychologists and psychotherapists experts in autism, to learn how to identify any signs of autism, how to encourage communication and how to improve the in-store experience for autistic people.

The project also involved the creation of a more suitable environment for autistic people, to include them more within everyday spaces and improve the quality of their lives and that of their families.
For this reason, in the new store we adopted some special measures, such as fixing the acoustic and lighting design. But the real innovation lies in the particular use we made of visual communication: the symbols have been realized in line with the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) criteria, have been submitted to neuropsychomotricists experienced in autism and their functionality has been tested by autistic people; all this was made in order to offer our autistic customers the chance to express themselves through other channels that might support verbal communication.
The concept and the graphic design of the pictograms were developed in partnership with Alla3, a non-profit organization created by three mothers of autistic children in order to make the world a more fitted place to live in for their children and proving that diversity means enrichment.
In the new Coop store in Monza, autistic customers and their helpers will be given priority checkout service.

It’s already been a while already since Coop Lombardia has been collaborating with PizzAut, a pizzeria managed by autistic kids together with restoration and rehabilitation professionals, that is also (and mostly) a laboratory of social inclusion.
When the lockdown caused by Covid-19 prevented the opening of the pizzeria in Cassina de’ Pecchi, this last April 2nd, PizzAut kids didn’t give up and, sponsored by Coop, they started delivering pizzas at home with a truck. This precious collaboration contributed to the decision to make other Coop stores “Autism Friendly”.

The Coop Autism Project is supported by European Commission to encourage inclusion.

For more information on the project, write to the Head of Communication of Coop Lombardia: andrea.pertegato@lombardia.coop.it