Considerations in Football
To create an autism friendly environment within your setting there are a number of considerations to think about that could make a big difference for individuals with Autism, whether this be players, spectators, volunteers or referees.
Creating an autism-friendly environment involves taking a thoughtful and proactive approach to addressing the unique needs of individuals with autism. By making simple modifications and accommodations, it is possible to create an inclusive and welcoming environment that can make a big difference for individuals with autism.
Please see below some suggestions and tips to consider:
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Best practice would be to review your policies annually to ensure they are relevant and up to date.
Ensure you have a safeguarding and equality policy. Do they include individuals with neurodiversity needs.
Are your codes of conducts up to date and relevant? If you need to create a individual code of conduct to support the needs of an individual, ensure you create this together with the individual and parent/carer to ensure it is suitable.
Both training sessions and match days can be overwhelming for individuals with autism, the noises, colours, number of people can cause a sensory overload or shut down.
Consider your language, keep communication simple, concise and to the point. Ask an individual to repeat back to you to ensure it is understood.
Consistency and structure is key to an autism friendly environment, can you ensure the same coach(s) are there where possible. Can you develop a regular structure to each session so individual knows what is happening next?
What information do you ask for before an individual joins? Do they complete a medical form and does this include individual social, learning, emotional needs that you need to be aware of? An FA template can be found here
Work with the individual and their parent/carer/guardian to develop a greater understanding of their needs, triggers & strategies that could be implemented within the football setting.
Could you create a short video of your facilities or the facilities you use for training and match days that could be shared before an individual arrives so they know what to expect and where to go to.
Be clear and concise with communication both verbally and for promotion.
Consider introducing Widgit symbols in your promotion, around your facilities or keeping as a communication tool on a keyring or on a tactics board. Examples can be found here: Referee Widgit. Football Widgit.
Activity Alliance have a number of resources available, however you may find their Inclusive Marketing and Communication section useful to consider. For further details click here.
The Equality Act 2010 requires employers and service providers to make 'reasonable adjustments' that will allow disabled people to access the same opportunities and services as non-disabled people. But what is reasonable for one organisation may be impossible for another.