The Philadelphia Eagles open a sensory room for autistic fans so families don’t have to leave the game
Autism is one of the fastest-growing serious developmental disorders in the United States.
Today, 1 in 59 children is diagnosed, an increase from 1 in 150 in 2002. That said, the Philadelphia Eagles just did something pretty amazing.
The “no reentry” rule that’s applied at most major venues can make a family coping with sensory needs think twice about whether they go to an event like a professional football game.
The Philadelphia Eagles built a sensory room in their Lincoln Financial Field so those fans don’t have to feel left out.
They became the first NFL team to open a sensory room inside their stadium on August 4. The Vikings and Jaguars also opened similar rooms last month. Several more NFL teams will be considered sensory-inclusive certified, meaning fans will have sensory bags available if they need them. Sensory bags contain noise-cancelling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads.
“When we think about families with children with autism coming to a game, there’s barriers to re-entry, there’s sensory overload when we score a touchdown and there’s pyrotechnics,” said Ryan Hammond, executive director of the Eagles Autism Challenge. “We felt the sensory room was what we needed to be fully accessible and the idea behind it was not to change the experience but deliver a solution if they needed to take a break. If the sensory bag wasn’t enough, you don’t have to leave the stadium. You can take a break, de-escalate, calm down and rejoin the experience when you felt ready.”
The 500-square-foot room includes several activity boards, large building blocks and no windows. The room was designed by medical professionals to ensure a quieter and more secure environment so the colors, lighting and sound were carefully selected.
“We see it benefiting fans with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or anyone who feels overwhelmed in the environment,” Hammond said.
“It was about being all in,” he added.
KultureCity, a nonprofit based in Birmingham, Alabama, helped the Eagles get the stadium up to “sensory-inclusive” certification standards. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), which has worked with the Eagles on autism advocacy initiatives in the past, sponsored the room.
KultureCity has created more than 200 sensory inclusive venues in three countries. As part of the certification process, the Eagles had about 700 game-day and full-time employees receive training on how to recognize and help fans who might be experiencing a sensory overload situation.
Former NFL star Tiki Barber is also an advocate for KultureCity and she says has helped the initiative grow in the league.
I’m not a fan, per se, of the @Eagles 😉 but I am a big fan of this… Making the sports world more inclusive for kids and adults with sensory processing sensitivities.
Awesome job!!@kulturec #autism #ptsd @NFL @AtlantaFalcons @MiamiDolphins @Patriotshttps://t.co/gATU7WqYQf
— Tiki Barber (@TikiBarber) August 8, 2019
Ten NHL teams, 9 MLB teams and 3 major league soccer teams have also become sensory-inclusive certified too, according to CNN.
Source Fox News