'Sensory Friendly' Game for New Fans

Siena's basketball game against Cal Poly was played under conditions to make it possible for those on the autism spectrum to attend.

January 2, 2019
 
Siena College
Siena players and coach meet with fans after the game

The Siena College Saints defeated the Cal Poly Mustangs, 75-54, but some fans may remember the match less for the score than for special features that enabled them to attend the game.

Many people on the autism spectrum have difficulty being in spaces with loud noises, especially if they are sudden, and flashing lights. So that means that those who might like to watch a basketball game stay away. The regular noise at an intercollegiate basketball game might also be upsetting for some with other conditions.

Working with the Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region, Siena organized a "sensory friendly" game for its match with Cal Poly at the Times Union Center, in Albany, N.Y. The game was played during the break between semesters, so the pep band wasn't going to play anyway. Some sections of the arena were reserved for fans and family members who needed a quieter atmosphere than is the norm at a basketball game. Horns and buzzers weren't used. And for fans who needed quiet that wouldn't be possible in any large arena, an enclosed media room was open for use and sealed off from the sounds of the arena.

Siena reports that about 60 people either sat in the special sections of the arena or in the protected room. The college plans to make the event annual.

Jalen Picket was among the players who went to the quiet room to sign autographs and chat with fans after the game (above right).

Below, Jamion Christian, the head coach, and players meet with fans.

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