Iliketrains wrote:Hey Pete.
Cheers for the offer mate. It's really great and kind that you want to help.
It should be the football club that is helping me get to more games though and not you. It should be the football club taking suggestions about how they can make their club more accessible to autistic fans and not you and it should be the football club who should be making it easier for me to sort out tickets and not you.
They don't so i don't go much anymore.
Thanks anyway Pete. Appreciated.
Iliketrains wrote:HU7stag i will try and clarify a best i can. I appreciate it's a lot to take in. It certainly is for me and i've been learning about this stuff for ages!
Clubs aren't necessarily contravening the equality act by not having sensory rooms so apologies if i gave that impression. Clubs do however run the risk of being in breach and potentially taken to court by an individual(s) if they don't believe that adequate provision is being made for them because of their autism, or indeed any other 'condition' included in that act.
As for the nuts and bolts of any said provision, i'd imagine it could be quite ambiguous and variable due to autism being on a 'spectrum' and thus something that one person with autism requires due to difficulties may not be required of another person with autism. However, each persons individual requirements must be reasonably accommodated by the football club.
For example. If i require the seat next to me to be empty due to the stress caused by having to sit directly next to a stranger then clubs should accommodate this at no extra charge and basically allow me to book 2 seats for the price of 1. Currently if you are disabled and in receipt of benefits like Personal Independence Payment then all clubs allow you to purchase a seat and then get the seat next to you free. Usually this is for a carer that can accompany the disabled person however this also still allows the disabled person to have 2 seats for the price of 1 even if the carer isn't present.
For people with autism who also require this same level of accommodation of that afforded to disabled people, it becomes instantly more problematic because autism isn't necessarily classed as a blanket disability in itself and thus those of us at the higher functioning end of the spectrum usually fall between two stools in the fact that we aren't deemed severe enough to be awarded PIP in order to obtain the free carers / empty seat yet our challenges are severe enough to stop us doing what we want to do and going where we want to go. That includes football matches.
Because a lot of people with autism don't have any obvious disabilities then they are discriminated against because they have hidden disabilities. Their difficulties cannot be seen.
My argument is that each person with an autism diagnosis should be treated the same as somebody who is registered disabled in terms of the Equality Act 2010 therefore if somebody ISN'T in receipt of PIP but has an NHS autism diagnosis (which isn't easy to get by the way - especially as an adult) then they should still be allowed a free seat if they pay for 1. Either for accompaniment from a friend or someone they know and are comfortable with or for the seat to be empty so they don't have to sit next to a stranger.
There are a lot of clubs who use their discretion and do stipulate that they are more than willing to discuss the allowing of free carer tickets even if you don't get disability benefit which is commendable but IMO they ALL should be doing it as a matter of protocol to comply with the Equality Act as that act states people with autism should have the same rights as disabled people. So in that respect HU7stag you are spot on. The majority of football clubs are contravening the Equality Act IMO.
If a disabled person gets a free ticket for a carer then so should a person with autism as one is not 'more worthy' than another which is currently how most football clubs see things and clearly it is discriminatory.
This particular example isn't just about getting a free ticket. It's about providing reasonable adjustments to people with autism under the Equality Act which are comparable to the adjustments made for disabled people to allow them to access football matches.
I have paid for 2 tickets in the past just so i can ensure the one next to me stays empty. I appreciate that at lots of grounds there is plenty of space and if i waited until after kick off i might get a seat in an empty area but this creates anxiety from the moment i wake in the morning as it's not planned and it is not guaranteed and is subject to change. Most people with autism plan everything down to the last detail to alleviate stress. Therefore i can't just rock up to the game on the day and decide ad hoc where i'm going to park / sit etc. It all has to be planned as any deviation can create distress.
Even allowing for the fact that i have an end seat and the seat next to me is empty. If i get a group of loutish lads directly behind me then i'd be spending the rest of the match scanning the stand to see where i can relocate to rather than relaxing and spending my energy enjoying the match and i can't rest until i've moved away from that situation. I can accept and cope with certain fans doing and shouting certain things but if it's a group of young lads who are prone to immaturity and acting erratically i cannot tolerate it. If it's a group of blokes who have had a few bevvies then the same applies. I have no control over the behaviour of the supporters around me and that's important. It's not important to be able to control them but to be able to be sat in an area from the start where i can relax and not clock every single fan who walks up near my seat to see if they are likely to be disruptive or not. That's tiring and i cannot usually relax until 10 minutes into a game where everything has settled down and the behaviour of the fans around me becomes predictable and unlikely to force me to move.
This is why i want a small section of stand set aside as a quiet area. Fans in wheelchairs have their own area because obviously they are in wheelchairs and their disability REQUIRES it. Fans with autism don't have their own areas despite their autism REQUIRING it. I don't see the difference.
My only other option is the family stand to virtually guarantee more sedate surroundings but i'd run the risk of looking like Rolf Harris sat in there on my own! No offence intended. Not good though. Not good at all.
Basically all i want from the footy is to be able to go, sit alone and in an area where the other fans around me aren't boisterous. This obviously proves difficult due to the very nature of football matches / crowds etc but these are criteria i require any football club to guarantee under the Equality Act 2010 due to my autism or at the very least make reasonable adjustments to try and accommodate my requirements.
Next time some of you go to the match you'll probably go through the entire day enjoying the pub, the matchday experience, the sandy pate bar, the laugh with mates and not even give a second thought to it all. It will just be just another cracking day out, unless the Stags lose obviously lol and you go home after and don't give it second thought.
Next time i go to the match i'll be sky high with anxiety from waking right through until getting home. I am barely able to do anything in that prolonged state let alone relax and enjoy a football match. Therefore if a lot of this anxiety is reduced due to me knowing in advance that i will be able to have my requirements (as above) met when i attend the footy then i can actually enjoy some of MY day out instead of simply focussing on what others are doing on THEIR day out.
Iliketrains wrote:Danielle did indeed offer to speak with me to try and help which is and was very much appreciated.
At the time i expressed my views clearly on what i would like to see happen to enable me to access tickets more easily amongst other things, therefore on my part i felt no need for discourse. The issues were clearly spelled out and to help me they needed to be resolved as i stated. If they can't be then i don't really see any need to discuss things further. The club can either help by doing what i recommended or they can't by not doing what i recommended. There is no discussion to be had. It's black and white.
As i didn't hear back from Danielle afterwards, presumably as she felt she wasn't in a position to help and as the club haven't implemented any of the recommendations i submitted that would help then i am to assume that they can't help me after all. Therefore i left it at that. I now generally go to watch other football matches nowadays where my specific needs can be accommodated and ease of obtaining tickets etc is simple and , although i still root for the Stags to win. It's a shame but i don't believe in standing still. If i can't be helped then i'll go elsewhere. I still have a love of watching live football.
It's a shame but the way it's panned out unfortunately. Thanks anyway Martin and Pete (again).
part time pete wrote:I think this is the main issue here.
Folk with Autism think there is only one way to ‘skin a cat’ and that it is their way, whereas ‘normal’ folk look at alternatives in order to get to a win-win solution.
How we get a problem solved with a person with autism might be to go with their idea so that trust can be built up and then conversations could then start to happen. If their solution/idea can’t be implemented then it should be widely shared so we all know why.
Danielle SLO wrote:The offer still stands! I am happy to meet with you to discuss your concerns and ways of helping to resolve issues. MTFC has an inclusion group called Football For All. We work alongside Reach, OneWalk and Notts LGBT to make MTFC a level playing field. We support individuals at the stadium and hopefully moving forward in the wider community. I think you would benefit from seeing what we do on a matchday for supporters with additional needs.
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