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Barclays Center opens sensory room to help those with ‘invisible disabilities’

It’s a need the Nets and Barclays Center have recognized. Individuals with “invisible disabilities” — autism, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other similar conditions — can experience sensory issues brought on by noise and over stimulation. That, of course, is an essential element of the environment in a sports and entertainment venue like Barclays Center.

So, the team and arena has created a dedicated “sensory room” designed by medical professionals to provide a quiet reprieve for those fans, outfitted with bean bags from Yogibo, visual light panels by Nanoleaf, activity panels, bubble walls, and a custom tactile artwork created by an autistic artist.

The room is the result of cooperation between the parent company of the Nets and Barclays Center on one hand and KultureCity, the nation’s leading nonprofit working on sensory accessibility. It’s the first at a New York sports facility.

The arena formally opened the room prior to the Raptors game Tuesday with a celebratory ribbon cutting ceremony featuring TV personality Jenni Farley (“JWoww”), one of the stars of “Jersey Shore,” and executives from Barclays Center and KultureCity. Farley partnered with Barclays Center to donate the sensory room which is named in honor of her son, Greyson Mathews, who has autism.

“This is such a proud moment for my entire family, for KultureCity and Barclays Center to join forces, we are creating sensory accessibility and inclusion for those with invisible disabilities,” Farley said.

The Greyson Mathews Sensory Room is located near section 17 on the arena’s inner ring. It will be open to individuals with sensory processing sensitives during all events at Barclays Center, serving as a dedicated space for those who may need a quieter and more secure environment if feeling overwhelmed by the arena experience.

The creation of the sensory room is the latest move by the arena to deal with the overall issue. Each year, arena staff are trained by leading professionals on how to recognize those with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation. Barclays Center also provides complimentary sensory bags equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads at Guest Services stations throughout the arena.

“When we talk about accessibility and inclusion, we have an obligation to ensure our guests with an invisible disability are treated with the appropriate accommodations at arena events,” Stacey McCoy, Senior Director of Guest Services at Barclays Center said in a statement.

The Nets have worked on the issue in the past due to Deron Williams’ personal experience. D-Will, whose son D.J. was diagnosed with autism, took sensory issues seriously. At a game in April 2015 arranged for dozens of families to sit in donated suites that served as sensory rooms for the night.