Tuesday 2nd April is an internationally recognised day that encourages all Member States of the United Nations to take part and raise awareness about people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
The National Autistic Society (UK) states on their website, “Autism is much more common than many people think. There are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.”
“Without understanding, autistic people and families are at risk of being isolated and developing mental health problems”
· Autism is a hidden disability.
· Autism doesn’t just affect children.
· Autism is a lifelong disability.
· Autism is incurable but the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.
Level Playing Field has witnessed and shared a number of great initiatives in sport – particularly football – over recent years as more clubs recognise the difference a few small changes can make to improving the match day experience for people with autism and making their club more inclusive.
One of the biggest projects with the largest impact has been The Shippey Campaign offering advice and support to clubs installing a Sensory Room. Founded by Peter and Kate Shippey, parents of 3 children with autism, the charity has made a difference for hundreds of people who can now attend football matches and feel safe and welcome in an inclusive environment. www.theshippeycampaign.com
A number of clubs have signed up to the Autism Charter, many provide Autism or Sensory packs for their supporters which include ear defenders and this week Premier League club, Wolverhampton Wanderers launched its Autism Hour at the Megastore. https://www.expressandstar.com/sport/football/wolverhampton-wanderers-fc/2019/03/30/wolves-megastore-starts-autism-hour-for-families/
During Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action 2019 LPF Ambassador, Kieran Reynolds talked about his experience as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) attending football matches. https://www.levelplayingfield.org.uk/news-item/football-aspergers-and-me-weeksofaction-fans-blog/
Ruth Hopkins, LPF General Manager said, “Level Playing Field encourages all clubs to learn more about autism, to train their frontline staff and to engage with fans and their families to understand how some small changes can make a big difference to being more inclusive.”
“We are pleased to promote World Autism Awareness Week here in the UK and we wish the campaign every success.”
World Autism Awareness Week: https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/world-autism-awareness-week.aspx
National Autistic Society: https://www.autism.org.uk/