Many hours of enjoyment are spent at Football Matches but not everybody realises how difficult watching a match live can be for some people, especially people with Autism and Sensory Processing Difficulties.
Over the last few years, more awareness has been growing across social media regarding special provisions for special individuals and how more effort needs to go into making matchday inclusive for all.
Why do people with Autism or Mental Illnesses find these situations difficult?
Bright lights, loud music and a lively atmosphere can be an exciting experience to some people but for some fans, the sensory overload can be an absolute nightmare!
Autism affects over 7000,000 people in the UK and according to a 2014 NAS Survey of individuals, families and carers affected by autism, 43% of those don’t engage in sport because of their sensory difficulties.
What can help?
Over the years people have tried all sorts of solutions to try and make them feel comfortable like wearing noise-cancelling headphones or sitting in corporate boxes where the atmosphere is a bit duller, but nothing has been completely effective and fans have made the decision to leave the match before it had finished.
In 2015 Sunderland AFC was the first football club in the Premier League to build a designated sensory room. Since the sensory environment has been created the football club have made their fans aware of the space and have received a fantastic response. With Autistic people or people with similar disabilities enjoying and making the most out of the sensory equipment and adding to their match-day experience.
The area contains a bubble tube, podium and mirrors, similar to the below. The purpose of this sensory corner is to create a calm, relaxing and stimulating environment.
*Please note this is an example image. All products and the overall design in the image was created by Rhino UK.
What are the key benefits to the football club?
- Accommodating all fans, so they can attend their favourite football club in person for the first time in a safe and relaxing environment.
- Creating bespoke sensory rooms using the club branding as part of the design.
- External room hire for special events i.e. Occupational Therapy Events.
- Portable sensory solutions are available as an alternative to a fixed sensory space, which is ideal for those limited on space or would use the space for alternative requirements.
How can Rhino UK help?
Rhino UK has over 40 years of experience working with sectors providing sensory solutions for all types of environments. We are on hand every step of the way to be able to help other supporters via football clubs enjoy football in a comfortable environment.