White Sox plan game with autism accommodations in June

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The sights and sounds of a Major League Baseball game are something most of us have come to expect as part of the over-all ball park experience. (WLS)

The sights and sounds of a Major League Baseball game are something most of us have come to expect as part of the over-all ball park experience. But for children living with autism, all that can be too much to handle.

Now Major League Baseball teams are trying to make sure those youngsters and their families can come out and enjoy a game.

It's a program started four years ago by the league and the advocacy group "autism speaks." In a couple of weeks the White Sox will host an excited group at U.S. Cellular Field for what they hope will be an enjoyable occasion. And the team is gearing up to make them feel right at home.

Things will definitely be a bit different at the Cell during a special game on what's being called "Autism Awareness Day." On June 12 the White Sox will have sections reserved just for autistic youngsters and their loved ones. For example, on that day the music and the PA system won't be as loud in that area as they would normally would be.

"Sometimes that can be too much for our kids. They are also going to have a quiet room available so that if the kids get too overstimulated - a lot of our kids have hypersensitivity to sensory inputs - so it's important that they make those modifications," says Colleen Shinn of Autism Speaks.

Perhaps the biggest change will be what happens after the Sox score a homerun and after they win the game.

"We are going to substitute our fireworks, which could be alarming to some with our video boards. With the new video boards, that we have we are going to be able to create a situation where people can see the fireworks so that they don't have to be startled or concerned about fireworks going off," says Brooks Boyer, senior vice president of the Chicago White Sox.

The sox organization will be displaying special messages about autism awareness on the big screens through-out the contest and ballpark employees will be handing out educational information. Austism specialists will also be on hand to answer questions and to assist the families on that day.

"This may be the only opportunity for some families to get to a major league ballpark and we want to make sure that day something that that is great and memorable and not have a situation where they get to come out to the ballpark and it was a bad experience. We can't control what happens when there is a round ball and ball and a bat thrown out there, but we certainly control the experience that happens around it," Boyers says.

That's all that matters to families looking for a little joy in their lives.

"It's a nice opportunity for them to spend the day dong what other families would do," says Shinn.

That autism awareness game is Sunday, June 12 at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox will be taking on the Kansas City Royals at 1:10 p.m. They are hoping that 400 fans come out for the special seating. They will be waiting for you.

Related Topics:
sportsdisabilitydisability issuesChicago White SoxChicago - Bronzeville
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