Birmingham's Autism Friendly Baseball Game

December 18, 2014

Faculty and trainees from the UAB LEND participated in the planning and support of the Birmingham Barons' first "Autism Friendly" minor league baseball game in May. In collaboration with a number of local service providers and parent support networks, including the Autism Society of Alabama, the UAB LEND provided suggestions on adapting the gameday experience for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. Alterations to the game included reduced volume of music and announcements, placing the team mascot in a special location (instead of walking throughout the park) to reduce anxiety, changing a clapping activity to a jumping activity, and providing "cool down" areas for individuals with ASD and their families if they needed a break from the game.

In addition to volunteering at the event to distribute tickets and provide assistance in the play and "cool down" areas, faculty and trainees developed a social story for each attendee that described the events of the game and what is located throughout the park to prepare them for their experience as well as a brief informational pamphlet to educate the ballpark staff on ASD prior to the game. In addition, information regarding ASD was provided at tables in the park and by the announcer during breaks in the game.

Over 5000 fans were in attendance, including at least 350 individuals with ASD and their families. The first pitch was thrown out by several individuals with ASD ranging from children to adults, the seventh inning stretch song was performed by a young woman with ASD, and several adults with ASD were highlighted before the game. This collaborative community event not only educated others about ASD but also provided a supportive inclusion experience for individuals with ASD. Some parents reported that they never dreamed their child would last an inning at a baseball game, much less have a good time attending the entire game! It was such a good time that the Barons have promised to make this an annual event, with continued focus on increasing awareness and acceptance of individuals with ASD in the community.

More information on this game is available here: