Devereux New Jersey provides autism training to Somerset Patriots staff
Devereux New Jersey’s clinical team held two, hourlong virtual training sessions on how to best support individuals and families living with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).
“Anytime someone in the community wants to better understand the challenges of a particular population, we are thrilled and honored to share information,” said Devereux New Jersey Statewide Clinical Director Michelle Lipchock, DSW, LCSW, who led the training sessions. “The Patriots want everyone who comes to the ballpark to feel welcomed and supported – and enjoy the experience. We discussed ways staff could enhance that experience for children and adults with autism and I/DD.”
Meeting community needs
To prepare for the training sessions, Devereux New Jersey’s clinical team examined all aspects of a baseball game, from beginning to end, and discussed ways in which they would help those in their care get ready for a game.
The clinical team offered Patriots staff ideas on how they could best meet the needs of individuals and families with autism and I/DD.
“We shared numerous ideas, such as having a separate entrance for individuals with disabilities and providing photos at concession stands of available food items. We also talked about the benefits of quiet areas, or sensory rooms, for those who may be feeling overwhelmed, as well as family bathrooms, which provide more space,” shared Lipchock. “Most importantly, we discussed how Patriots staff could support individuals and families who may be experiencing behavioral challenges during a game. We suggested that staff ask, ‘What can I do to help?’ That simple question can go a long way for a family – it shows them you are seeing what is happening, you are validating that it is a challenge for them, and you are offering support.”
Patriots Director of Marketing Hal Hansen also noted, “We want families who have children or adults with autism to feel as safe and comfortable as possible with their decision to attend a game. The training provided our front-office staff with a number of important recommendations that we will be adopting and, hopefully, that makes us more prepared for our fans.”
An ongoing partnership
In addition to the training sessions, Devereux New Jersey also recently partnered with the Patriots to celebrate Autism Awareness Night at the ballpark. About 85 Devereux New Jersey team members, and individuals served by the organization, attended the game. The first pitch was thrown by two adults supported by Devereux New Jersey.
“We are excited to continue to build a strong partnership with the Patriots to promote acceptance and inclusion for children, adolescents and adults with autism and I/DD, working together to support these individuals in achieving their full potential,” said Lipchock.
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