Tees

Middlesbrough football club autism sensory room opens

Nathan Shippey overlooking Sunderland's pitch
Image caption Nathan Shippey found the noise outside in the stands "just far too much"

A couple with three autistic sons have persuaded a fifth football club to open a sensory room for fans with the condition.

Kate and Pete Shippey campaigned for all grounds to have them because their eldest son struggled to watch matches at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.

The club was the first to open a room, with a view of the pitch, last year.

Mr Shippey said it was "tremendous" Middlesbrough Football Club had also now followed suit.

"I'm hoping over the coming years that many fans, kids with the challenges, and their parents and carers, will come and enjoy the game, open a door that previously was shut to them," he said.

Image caption The Middlesbrough FC sensory room has "fidget boxes" for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

The space at Middlesbrough has no view of the pitch but will live stream matches on a big screen.

There are therapeutic lights, autism-appropriate toys and a quiet feed of crowd noise.

The Shippeys have been involved in similar "sensory sanctuaries" at Watford, Airdrie and Rangers football clubs.

Mrs Shippey said a football match was a "very unpredictable environment".

"The over-stimulation, the speakers are noisy, people around you are noisy, they might be shouting out to a friend before the match starts and then obviously, when the game kicks off, the roar of the crowds, people shouting at players," she said.

Her son "can't handle it, it's just far too much", she said.

Middlesbrough FC's room opens on Sunday for its match against Manchester United.

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