Notts fan Steve Martin has told the story of how the Meadow Lane sensory rooms have turned his dreams of watching football with his son, Alfie, into reality.
Alfie has Fragile X syndrome - the most commonly known inherited cause of learning disability which can cause a range of difficulties including social, language, attentional, emotional and behavioural problems.
In recognition of Level Playing Field's Weeks of Action, an annual period of inspiration and celebration of good access and inclusion at sports venues, we asked Steve to tell us about his experience.
When did you and Alfie begin visiting the sensory rooms?
Our first visit was for the Morecambe match in October 2016 but the game was abandoned in the first half due to the weather. It then took us until 2018 to go back but since then we have been many times.
How do the sensory rooms help you and Alfie enjoy coming down to Meadow Lane to watch the games?
They are very nicely decorated and have lots of sensory toys, lights, etc. - plus a brilliant view of the game.
You can't really hear much of the crowd noise, which is a bonus, and all the volunteers are fantastic. You couldn’t wish to meet nicer people.
Booking a room couldn’t be easier, either.
Would you recommend the sensory rooms to another supporter?
I would highly recommend the sensory rooms to everyone. You get no unwanted looks or attention from anyone because everyone using the rooms is in the same position as you, caring for someone with additional needs.
Since visiting the sensory rooms, has Alfie been able to watch any of the games in the stand?
Although we still use the sensory rooms and will continue to do so in the future, Alfie is now confident enough to watch games from the Family Stand as well.
Without the use of the sensory rooms in the first instance, this wouldn’t have been possible. It's allowed him to get used to travelling to the ground, parking in the same car park every game and walking to the ground. The only change is the turnstile and walking up the steps in the ground.
I would like to thank everyone at Notts county for making it possible for me to take my son to watch the football. You will never understand the feeling I get sitting at the back of the stand with my son watching the game, especially after thinking that would not be possible following his diagnosis and a very bad experience at a local Under 23s game. Thank you, all.
How important is it to you and Alfie that the club focuses on inclusion and positive experiences for all supporters?
What the club do for inclusion is great. I have never had a bad experience when I've visited the ground.
If you're interested in hearing more about our sensory rooms, please call 0115 955 7241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.