In an effort to accommodate families with autistic children, the New York Mets are considering adding a “quiet section” of seats in Citi Field. Many autistic children and individuals have extreme sensitivities to sounds and noise and having a designated quiet section might make the experience of watching a baseball game not only easier on them and their families, but simply possible. A Mets official told the New York Daily News that the team got the idea after designating a quiet section on May 6 as part of the team’s Autism Awareness Day.
To find out if families might be interested, the Mets sent out a survey this week to about a thousand Mets fans, with questions about music, the scoreboard and “other parts of the Citi Field experience,” says the New York Daily News:
The Mets are considering adding a designated ‘quiet’ seating section with lower volume PA announcements and no music or cheerleading. How likely would you be to purchase tickets in that section?
However, the Mets neglected to explain why they were considering creating a quiet section and a report about the survey openly mocked the idea. Was not mentioning that the quiet section would be for autistic children just an oversight, or did team officials hesitate to mention their rationale?
Team officials say they are still considering the results from the questionnaire before making their decision.
On MinorLeagueBall.com, John Sickel explained why he embraced the idea:
This is something I would like to see. My youngest son Jackson, age 6, is moderately-to-severely autistic and has a difficult time in crowded environments with lots of people and noise. We generally avoid crowds, no choice really…he’s never been to a baseball game or a movie, for example. The grocery store is tough enough. If there were some sort of family-oriented section with accommodations for autistic and special needs kids and their families, it would make it a lot more likely that we could attend traditional family events that are often not feasible for us.
A number of theaters and movie cinemas have been offering “sensory friendly” productions, specifically geared to accommodate autistic children by making it all right for them to get up during a performance, talk or vocalize and such. Accommodations such as not turning the lights of a theater on and off can make a big difference. The proposed quiet section at Citi Field will, it is hoped, do just what Sickel says, enabling autistic children and children with disabilities and their families to be able to ”attend traditional family events that are often not feasible for us.”
But what the New York Daily News calls the “mean” response to the Mets’ survey shows how far we have to go in winning broader acceptance from society about accommodations for those whose needs are different. Not everyone who goes to baseball game can handle hearing the roar of the crowd; I confess to not being a big fan of baseball but the few games I’ve gone to, I’ve been especially struck at how loud the announcers and music are. Others with sound and noise sensitivities could also consider purchasing tickets for the quiet section which would include second-deck, left-field seats. The Mets should at least give a quiet section a chance so some fans who are not able to enjoy the game can give it a try.
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