As Summer fades and Fall begins to answer the call for cooler weather (even though it may not feel like it), football season begins and all seems right with the world again. Attending a game and doing some tailgating are usually a high priority, but when you have a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder, it may very difficult to take in a game in the stadium bleachers with the rest of the crowd chanting for your favorite team. Many parents may be at home sitting on the couch wishing there was a way they could take their son or daughter to the real thing while thinking there is no way it would work.
If you are one of those parents, Touchstone wants to tell you that through much preparation and communication, what you thought impossible is already happening and very possible.
Throughout the country there have been many initiatives to tackle this problem, for instance, Autism Inclusion Resources has partnered with multiple professional sports teams in Philadelphia to create an environment where people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder can attend every game, instead of the one game per year that each team schedules for people with sensory difficulties. I’m A-Ok, a foundation that raises awareness for autism, partnered with the Seattle Seahawks to provide gameday kits that help fans with ASD have a better gameday experience.
These gameday kits and a place where the children can go is vital for families to attend a game.
The biggest challenges for fans with ASD are often the big crowd, loud noise, hot sun (until it cools down), and the security.
Here are some important preparations you can make in order to be prepared for these challenges:
- Call the staff ahead of time to see if they have accommodations in place already
- Ask for a walkthrough beforehand to get a feel of the surroundings
- Pack several snacks and fluids
- Bring active things for them to do during tailgating
- Bring activities and toys for the game
- Make sure you are aware of quick exits and have an exit plan
- Avoid the crowd – Arrive/leave early or late
- Gameday kits include:
- Preferred toys, schedule of gameday events, noise-cancelling headphones, stickers, and an identifier badge
Try and find ways to get them moving and involved as much as possible. By doing this, you may reduce the risk of your child trying to leave their seat or area. If they transition easily, take them to get food or show them around the stadium, just keep in mind what your child’s limitations are.
As always, if you have any questions, please call us at (985) 446-6833, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.touchstoneaba.com. You can also follow Touchstone on Facebook!