As an adult with high functioning autism i'd like to express my delight at seeing this at Mansfield Town. I find attending games challenging at times even now i've turned 40 and i've still not got used to all the sensory input in terms of visual and auditory stimuli that you can experience at games. It can get stressful. It's too late for me although a heated padded seat wouldn't go amiss
but for young kids who have autism and who are developing an interest in football (both on the increase) then a facility such as this can make or break it for both the kid and the parents.
It's a massive step forward and i am aware that some clubs now are developing their own versions of sensory rooms / areas. I believe Donny have one that is also for adults to go and take time out if need be. I was invited to try the sensory room at Clownty a few years ago which was set up in conjunction with the groundsman there whose kid has autism. I didn't accept however as i can manage in the stands and didn't want to put it out of action for a game when some kids could have used it.
I think it's great that (some) clubs are finally making themselves accessible to autistic fans of all ages. Wrexham for example are piloting a scheme at home games where they set aside an end section of seats in the stand purely for people on the autistic spectrum and their families. They assign a couple of stewards to that section and these stewards work only on that section and enable the fans with autism to see the same familiar face every game instead of different stewards every week and it can really help.
For whatever reason, autism is rapidly on the rise with more and more youngsters being born with the condition and more and more people (like myself) being diagnosed at a much older age. Autism is here to stay and football clubs and other sporting venues are starting to become more aware of this and more accepting of it which is absolutely fantastic. I've done a lot of research in this field and i am currently writing a football book about it and one thing i have discovered is that it's generally lower league clubs in the EFL pyramid that are making the effort to address things and make improvements for autistic supporters.
The big Prem clubs and Championship clubs with cash sloshing about are often sadly lacking which is a shame.
It's actually great work from the SSA, MTFC and all involved and hopefully further implementations will take place at football clubs to help even more people enjoy football and enjoy supporting their local club.