News: Watford Celebrate Autism Awareness Week

By: Watford FC Staff

The start of April marks Autism Awareness Week 2020, an annual campaign which helps spread awareness and increase acceptance of those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The Hornets have been at the forefront of the drive to improve stadium facilities for children with autism and our Sensory Room, opened in late 2016, has now seen more than 100 families attend a match at Vicarage Road. Of those families, 15 have transitioned to using general access areas of the stadium having broken down the barriers to their attendance using the room.

We are also delighted to continue promoting the work of Anna Kennedy Online, a charity that is dedicated to promoting the inclusion and equality of children and adults with an autism spectrum condition. It’s a small charity with a big heart which is run solely be volunteers and raises autism awareness like no other mainstream charity. 

Anna Kennedy Online run three annual events - Autism’s Got Talent, The Autism Hero Awards and the AKO Autism Expo. They have a helpline, provide workshops, run several campaigns for anti-bullying and Special Educational Needs and have addressed many important issues in parliament.  

Anna Kennedy OBE, founder of the charity, is a parent of two boys with autism. She supports thousands of families living with autism through her website and through social media.

Jo Wiggins - who has a son with Asperger's - lives in Watford and is from a family of dedicated Hornets fans. Jo volunteers for the charity, helping at different events and looks after families based in the Watford area. 

“The club very kindly hosted a family fun day for those with autism and it proved a huge success,” said Wiggins. “The families got to have a detailed tour around the stadium, meet Harry the Hornet, spend time socialising with other families and they were made to feel most welcome. For most it was the first time in a football ground and the ‘wow’ moment from their reactions was very emotional to watch.”

A further event, originally planned for this weekend's postponed Watford v Southampton match, has been called off due to the coronavirus outbreak but the club and Anna Kennedy Online will continue to work together on the event, which will now be held when football at Vicarage Road resumes.

Families interested in attending the Sensory Room should contact Dave Messenger, the club’s Supporter Liaison and Disability Access Officer, in the first instance by emailing More details on the Sensory Room and a virtual tour can be found on the links below.

Click HERE for an introduction to the Sensory Room.

To take a virtual tour of the Sensory Room, please click on the links below:

For information on Anna Kennedy Online, click HERE.

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