RENTON — The Seahawks will become the latest NFL team to offer a sensory room — billed as a place “to help fans and guests who may be feeling overwhelmed or over stimulated” — during games this season, due in large part to a push from Traci Schneider, the wife of the team’s general manager, John Schneider.
The couple’s oldest of two sons, Ben, was diagnosed with autism almost 15 years ago. And Traci and John Schneider have been at the forefront of championing autism-related issues ever since, including a yearly dinner that raises funds to support families who have children with autism.
The sensory room — officially called the A-OK Sensory Room — is Traci Schneider’s latest project. A few years ago, Schneider and The Seahawks Women’s Association helped the team begin offering autism kits to those with autism or other sensory issues, which include fidget toys and headphones that block out noise.
The room is a further step to making those with autism and other sensory issues feel comfortable at games, Schneider said.
“We wanted to be inclusive,’’ Traci Schneider said. “We wanted to be a stadium where our fans felt welcome and give them a space and an opportunity if they were getting overwhelmed — we all know CenturyLink Field is very loud and very high sensory – so just give them a space to have that moment to come back down so they can rejoin our gameday and be part of it.’’
The room is located at Southwest guest services and is further described as “a safe and calming environment” for fans with autism, PTSD and other sensory challenges. It will be open for all stadium events.
No registration is necessary but all children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. A TV is in the room so that all can continue to watch the game.
The toolkits will also continue to be provided.
Fans needing assistance during game day experience should dial 888-MY-HAWKS or text message HAWK12.
Schneider said “this had kind of been on our radar ever since our son was diagnosed 14, almost 15, years ago.’’
She said at least nine other NFL teams offer something similar, including Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field and MetLife Stadium, which hosts the Giants and Jets.