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World Autism Acceptance Week: Aston Villa’s sensory rooms make positive change

This week is World Autism Acceptance Week, and Level Playing Field sat down with fans and clubs to chat about experiences with autism at live sports events.
Aston Villa

Aston Villa offer new state of the art sensory rooms at Villa Park for use on matchdays.

The sensory rooms are a space for families, who may have specific sensory requirements, to watch matches with an unrestricted view of the pitch, creating a safe, quiet and controlled environment to watch the game.

The rooms have been an amazing addition that have sold out at every game this year, with quite a few younger supporters having been able to transition into general access areas of the stadium because of using the rooms.

Sensory viewing rooms can be a game changer for a wide range of football fans, including those who are autistic, having sensory processing disabilities or dementia.

Lifelong Aston Villa fans Clark and George Simmons were the first family to try out Villa Park’s new sensory rooms.

He said: “For me personally, it was an emotional experience as I have always wanted to bring George along to Villa Park, but this would not have been possible as the noise and crowd levels from the stands would have been too much for George to manage.”

“What has been achieved is fantastic. The sensory rooms are suitable for children with autism spectrum disorder and learning difficulties, the equipment on offer means children will be entertained during a match day and will provide families with a safe environment to enjoy a stress-free day out at Villa Park.”

Aston Villa Disability Access Officer Anthony Richards said: “The rooms can be used for a range of disabilities and conditions, and there have been a few occasions this season supporters have been given the chance to see Aston Villa play one last time.

“In addition, they regularly start the journey of young autistic supporters, which may not have happened without the facility, sensory rooms are imperative to our football club.”