Flyers offer sensory-friendly lounge monthly for fans with autism: 'It is so necessary'

Andrew Kramer
November 17, 2019 - 11:46 am
17-year-old Jack Stockmal (left) and his mother Carrie (middle), with neuropsychologist Jennifer West-Gavin and service companion dog Lullaby (right).

Andrew Kramer/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Between the lights and sounds, a professional sports game can sometimes be a tough place to be for someone with autism. But the Philadelphia Flyers are hoping to change that.

In the past, the Wells Fargo Center would offer a sensory-friendly lounge for fans with autism during one Flyers game a season. Now, that lounge will be open during one home game a month.

Carrie Stockmal brought her 17-year-old son Jack to the lounge during its season debut.

"My son was trying to watch the game from our seats and had his hands over his ears and just said 'this is too loud' and so we walked back into the hallway and I knew there was a sensory room so here we are," she told KYW Newsradio. "He's been happy since he's been in here which is a good thing. I think it'll center him a little bit more and then we'll be able to go back out."

The sensory-friendly lounge is very quiet. There's lots of space and games available to play. The Flyers game that night will be on TV in the room so fans don't miss any of the action. 

Neuropsychologist Jennifer West-Gavin with service companion dog Lullaby.
Andrew Kramer/KYW Newsradio

"It is so necessary," added Stockmal. "If there wasn't a place like this for Jack to go, what would happen with him is he would just escalate and escalate and he would never be able to enjoy this experience and it potentially could get hard for him and then everyone around him."

Also in the room, you'll find neuropsychologist Jennifer West-Gavin with her service companion dog, Lullaby. 

"Basically what she does is provides additional support, an outlet," explained West-Gavin. "She provides a comfort in an environment that can be really loud and can be over-stimulating for some."

There's also a sensory-friendly room at Lincoln Financial Field, which the Philadelphia Eagles built this season.

The Flyers say they will be giving complimentary tickets to a some non-profit autism organizations during these sensory-friendly nights. The dates are December 5, January 13, February 10, March 17 and April 2. 

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