This morning I had the pleasure of going to Marvel Stadium to see the new quiet room that has been created at the initiative of St Kilda Football Club, with Amaze’s support.
Channel Nine came to check it out and talked to me and some autistic St Kilda fans. I had the pleasure of meeting Jodi and her daughter Saige; Jodi has four autistic children, Saige is the youngest and the only girl. She loves St Kilda and footy – after 6 weeks in AllPlay (a modified Auskick program), Saige now participates in Auskick in her local community.
It was great talking to Jodi about how much the Marvel Stadium and St Kilda Football Club quiet room means to her and Saige.
Jodi spoke about how the game can affect Saige – as a huge St Kilda fan, it disturbs her when the opposing team’s fans cheer and sing their club song. Food odours can be overbearing – a hot pie, or someone spilling their beer can overwhelm her. Fans doing a lot of repetitive arm waving can also be hard. Jodi understands these are normal fan activities, and part of the game experience – but it means they may have to leave at the first quarter, as Saige is overwhelmed. So, the cost of the tickets – around $100 – plus travel costs are wasted.
Now, with the quiet room, they can come to games, knowing Saige can deregulate in the quiet room, then return to the stadium or stay and watch the game in the room.
The room has bean bags and pillows, dim lights and no external light, plus St Kilda are providing headphones and football-shaped stress balls that children can decorate and use.
I also met the AFL Inclusion Team, who are hoping all clubs will be providing calming rooms by 2022.
I hope that’s sooner, and did a call-out in the news story for all AFL clubs to get on board now. Autism friendly environments are the ‘ramps and rails’ for autistic people and others with non-physical disability.
Amaze will continue to advocate for autism friendly environments so all autistic Victorians can participate and contribute in all areas of our community.
Free tickets are available to attend St Kilda’s round 1 match this Sunday 24 March 2019 when the sensory room officially opens. Secure your free tickets