Dec 5, 2018, Metro.US: How autism break rooms can bring more inclusion to school sporting events https://www.metro.us/lifestyle/career-education/autism-break-rooms On Sunday, Dec. 2, Philly college basketball fans filled the Hagan Arena to watch the Saint Joseph’s University Hawks tip off against hometown rivals the Temple Owls. While the game was a narrow loss for the Hawks, the university had what may have been a huge victory that could change the way large sporting events on a national level. Saint Joseph’s is the only school in the country to introduce autism break rooms to their sporting events so that fans of all ages who live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can enjoy on their own level. The first of these autism break rooms was designed and is staffed by experts at the university’s nationally recognized Kinney Center who has also trained volunteers known as “game-day leaders” on how they can best support families who need to take advantage of the room’s services. The break room has been stocked with “sensory-friendly items” such as stress balls, bean bag chairs, bounce boards, weighted blankets, noise-canceling headphones, and more. This room will be a perfect place for Hawks fans to go and take a breather all while enjoying the game up close. According to Joseph McCleery, Ph.D., executive director of academic programs at The Kinney Center for Autism, providing a space of inclusion for fans on the spectrum can be one of the most effective ways to peak the interests of sports fans with ASD and to help them have a healthier relationship with sports and physical activity.
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