Beginning this year, CenturyLink Field will offer a safe and calming environment for those who need to escape the noise and excitement that comes with the Seahawks gameday experience.
Spearheaded by Traci Schneider, the wife of Seahawks general manager John Schneider, CenturyLink Field now has the A-OK Sensory Room for fans with autism, sensory challenges or PTSD who may be feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. The sensory room, which is located at GuestLink on the Southwest Field PLaza, will be open for all full stadium events. Children using the room must be accompanied by an adult.
The addition of the A-OK Sensory Room is just the latest contribution to the autism community made by the Schneiders, whose son Ben was diagnosed with Autism almost 15 years ago. Since 2012, their annual Prime Time celebrity waiter event has raised more than $4.25 million for Ben’s Fund, the Schneiders’ non-profit that gives grants to families affected by autism. In 2015, the Seahawks Women’s Association partnered with A-OK Autism to provide toolkits for fans on the autism spectrum that include noise cancelling headphones, ear plugs, sensory toys and an “I’m A-OK” identifier badge.
“John and I are immersed in the autism world, and this has been on our radar ever since our son was diagnosed almost 15 years ago,” Traci Schneider said. “… We did feel like this is the next step in the process, because we want to be inclusive. We want to be a stadium where our fans felt welcome, and give them a space and an opportunity, if they are getting overwhelmed—we all know that CenturyLink is very loud and very high sensory—so just give them a space to have that moment and to come back down so they can rejoin our gameday and be part of it.”
The Seahawks were the first team to offer the sensory kits, but several other NFL teams have recently added sensory rooms, something Traci Schneider sees as an encouraging trend.
“I love where we’re all going and what we’re all doing and how we’re all trying to be a little bit more inclusive and supportive to all of our fans,” she said.