Royal Oldham Speech Therapist works with Oldham Athletic to support fans with communication difficulties

Speech Therapist, Barbara Rossington works with Oldham Athletic to support fans with communication difficulties
Royal Oldham Speech Therapist works with Oldham Athletic to support fans with communication difficulties
25 September 2019

A Speech Therapist at The Royal Oldham Hospital has been working in partnership with Oldham Athletic Community Trust (OACT) to support football fans with communication difficulties by designing and introducing a communication symbols page, which will now be a regular feature in their match day programmes.

Speech Therapist, Barbara Rossington worked closely with the Community Trust to develop the communication symbols page after spotting the pioneering OACT match day sensory packs that the club introduced for supporters on the autistic spectrum to use last season.

Barbara explains how she came to work on the project with the club: “We were really impressed by the sensory packs that Oldham Athletic set up last season to support parents of children with autism attending match days.

“When I looked at the packs, I noticed that there was nothing in there to support the children’s communication, so I put together a communication symbols page that I thought might be a useful addition. Thankfully, the club really liked it and wanted to put some pictures to support communication in their match day programme.”

“Having difficulties with communication can be an isolating and frustrating experience and anything we can do to support children’s communication skills will help improve their interaction with those around them. We think that the symbols will be particularly useful in a match day environment.”

Martin Vose, OACT Head of Community, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to Barbara Rossington and The Royal Oldham Hospital for their support and partnership work for this initiative.

“It’s really important to Oldham Athletic that every match day experience is as inclusive and enjoyable as possible and the introduction of communication symbols in our match day programmes definitely helps us take a step towards that. We hope that it will make a big difference to families attending the match who have children with autism or difficulties with communication.”

The communication symbols page was introduced at the Exeter City match on 20th August and feedback from families to date has been very positive.

Barbara is now hoping to continue working with the Community Trust to look at ways the speech therapy team at The Royal Oldham can support fans with communication difficulties and improve their interaction with others on match days.