Bowen Opticians in Weston-super-Mare has become the first optical practice in England to be given the Autism Friendly award by the National Autistic Society.

The award was given to the practice for reducing the difficulty and distress many autistic people feel during eye tests. This included allowing the patients to visit the practice before their eye tests to get used to the environment as well as noting down any communication requirements on the patient’s personal record.

Manager Stephanie Swire said: ‘We have quite a few autistic patients, both children and adults and a lot of us have family and friends with autism so it’s a cause close to home. When we heard about the award we felt like we were already doing a lot of things it discussed by tailoring our service to make sure people are happy and comfortable.’

During Autism Awareness Week (March 27- April 2), the practice also hosted a fundraising event to raise awareness of the cause in the local community.