Philadelphia Eagles Introduce Sensory Room
The room help makes the stadium more accessible for fans with autism and other sensory disorders
A professional sporting event can be a difficult environment for fans with sensory challenges. Large crowds, loud noises and unfamiliar surroundings can affect both children and adults with autism, sensory processing disorder and other challenges. And because most venues have a "no re-entry" policy, a parent cannot typically take a child out of the stadium to decompress.
That's why the Philadelphia Eagles are being praised for being the first NFL team to introduce a sensory room for young fans.
According to CNN, the room, which is sponsored by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, was designed to help the Eagles get Lincoln Financial Field up to "sensory-inclusive" certification standards.
It is a quiet place away from the field where fans who might get overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of a football game can have a few quiet minutes, then return to the game.
"They can't see the field, but that's kind of on purpose, so they can take a break, center themselves and rejoin the experience," Ryan Hammond, executive director of the Eagles Autism Challenge, told CNN.
Guest Services kiosks at the stadium now offer sensory bags, stuffed with noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys, weighted lap pads and other items. Around 700 Eagles employees and game day staff have been trained to help recognize fans who might be experiencing a sensory overload situation.
As many as one in 59 children in the United States are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and advocates say sensory rooms are a critical step in making public events accessible for all kids. According to CNN, at least nine other NFL teams are exploring sensory-inclusive certification, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Photo credit Philadelphia Eagles.