A new scheme has been put in place to allow leisure centres to improve accessibility for children with autism.
Centres which meet certain requirements will be awarded autism friendly status by the Autism Spectrum Team at Cornwall Council, which has teamed up with Cornwall Sports Partnership to offer training.
This training is aimed at sports coaches and activity leaders and includes information and principles to keep in mind when including people with autism.
‘Communication passports’ have been created to help any member of staff who interacts with children with autism, featuring information to help staff members understand more about autism and how best to help them enjoy activities.
Councillor Sally Hawken, portfolio holder for children and wellbeing, said: “A huge amount of good work is going on in Cornwall to improve the lives of young people with autism, and we have already received positive feedback from independent sports and leisure providers in Cornwall.
“Public places can create a lot of anxiety for people with autism, as they may struggle with social interaction, noise and a different environment. They may have sensory differences, and the experience of going to a leisure centre could prove to be hard, and prevent people going out as a family or enjoying the facilities.
“It is very important that our community and leisure facilities are accessible for all to enjoy, as this is important for our health and wellbeing.”
Leisure centres in Bodmin and St Austell are leading the way by undertaking autism awareness training for all of their staff starting in December.