As autism research progresses, the world is slowly becoming more inclusive. After all, although symptoms vary, most individuals with autism are sensitive to noise and stimulation, and people have found ways to minimize those problems.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been working hard to do just that over the past year. And this off-season, they went a step further by building a safe haven for fans with sensory issues.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia sponsored the project: a sensory room in which everything from the activities to the furniture was designed to allow autistic fans and their families to catch their breath while still enjoying the game. During construction, the hospital consulted with the nonprofit KultureCity to ensure the space was up to sensory-inclusive standards, and they seem to have done a fantastic job!
Parents with autistic children are now able to enjoy live games as a family without experiencing nearly as much stress!
The Eagles also offer “sensory bags” for anyone who is easily overstimulated. The bags are “filled with tools like noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads.” And if those items aren’t enough to calm someone down, fans can retreat to the sensory room. Even better, they can return to the game whenever they’re ready, despite the normal rule that people can’t reenter the stadium once they leave.
Amazingly, that’s not all the Eagles are doing to make their stadium a safe space. Around 700 of their staff members have been trained to recognize the signs of distress caused by sensory overload, and the sensory room itself is staffed by professionals who know how to best meet the needs of people with autism.
Families with autistic children are thrilled by the inclusivity the Eagles are demonstrating! Crowded events like live games can be almost impossible for them to attend, but now they have a way to engage with something they love like never before!
To learn more about the Eagles’ inclusive mission, check out the video below, and share this story to encourage other groups to create safe spaces for people with autism!
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