Autistic students from LVS Hassocks used a Championship football match as an opportunity to learn to cope with noisy crowds.
The LVS Hassocks pupils were among the 25,231 crowd at Brighton and Hove Albion vs Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 18.
With crowded spaces notoriously difficult for children with autism to manage due to the range of stimuli they have to deal with, the Amex was an ideal place to immerse themselves in a busy atmosphere and practice key skills.
As many people on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information such as noise and light and with sensory overload potentially causing stress and anxiety, preparation for the game was as much a team effort for LVS Hassocks as it was for Brighton.
Teachers and speech and language therapy staff combined to make students aware of what they would face, and developed calming mechanisms with them to ensure that should they find the experience overwhelming they could help themselves to cope with the situation.
The preparation resulted in all students thoroughly enjoying the experience, with Steven Bagnall saying: “The match was really good and I enjoyed the experience even though there was only one goal in the game. The crowd and atmosphere were fun.”
LVS Hassocks staff member Mark Carrell who accompanied the students said: “It was great to see the young people enjoying themselves at the game. They were such a credit to the school and conducted themselves excellently in such a busy social setting.
“These kind of experiences are so good for the students’ social development and integration – it is so important for them to be able to develop their socialisation skills and community awareness, and the trip allowed us to observe just how much progression they have made. All the staff are so proud of them.”
LVS Hassocks Head of Centre Kira Brabenec added: “One of our key areas in which we help develop our students is building their confidence and making sure they are equipped when they leave the school to live independently and cope with social situations they will encounter in everyday life.
“A trip to Brighton and Hove Albion like this gives them practice at a range of things they find challenging, and because it is something they enjoy so much they are able to tackle that positively and successfully.”
Contributed by LVS Hassocks
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