For many sports fans, the sights and sounds of their favourite team running out onto a pitch in a packed stadium sparks jubilation, but for some people with disability, including Autistic people, the sensory experience can quickly become overwhelming.

Autism advocacy groups may have found a solution for young sports enthusiasts, teaming up with the AFL for a trial of quiet rooms at stadiums.

Aspect South Coast spokesperson Liza Cassidy said all Australians should have the opportunity to access and be included in community events. There are no quiet rooms in Illawarra stadiums.

“For an individual on the autism spectrum, visiting many public places and events can be challenging, but by making just a few minor adjustments and providing an autism friendly space you open up a new world for these individuals and their families,” she said. 

One in 70 Australians have Autism and advocates claim quiet rooms at sports stadiums could be a game changer for thousands of families.

“There is a growing recognition that we need to make large events more inclusive” Ms Cassidy said.

While WIN Stadium & Entertainment Centre venue manager Marc Swan said he had no plans to a trial sensory rooms in Wollongong, Venues NSW (which owns WIN Stadium) has trialled the rooms at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.

“Venues NSW will continue to work to accommodate patrons on a case-by-case basis who have additional needs or require additional assistance at events. Anyone attending our venues is welcome to request assistance from venue staff during an event,” Mr Swan said.

“We work with hirers to anticipate accessible needs for specific events and teams who use our facilities.”

While the sensory room initiative has just become a talking point in NSW,  they have been a success in Victoria. Hawthorne, St. Kilda and Geelong have all introduced sensory rooms in their home grounds, and the AFL hopes to make the rooms mandatory for all clubs in the near future.