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02 February 2023

First Autism Awareness Workshop well received

The inaugural Autism in Racing workshop was held on Tuesday night, kindly hosted by the Injured Jockey’s Fund’s Oaksey House Centre  in Lambourn. The pioneering workshop saw some key industry stakeholders and participants come together to learn about the condition and how the industry can be at the forefront of opening up employment for those who have been diagnosed with autism.

The evening was hosted by Bobby Beevers, a presenter and Founder of the Autism in Racing initiative, and autism advocate Dr Carly Jones MBE. Both speakers gave an unparalleled insight into living and working with the condition, having both been diagnosed.

Bobby explained to the audience about the condition and the employment barriers that are faced by autistic people. Over 77% of people diagnosed would like to be in employment, while only 22% are actually in jobs. He suggested that the racing industry is one that offers a unique employment opportunity. Dr Carly Jones MBE expanded on this idea by detailing the inequalities in the diagnosis between male and females, and shocked the audience with the fact that in 1993 an NHS nurse told a family that girls could not be autistic. We now know this not to be the case, with the true diagnosis figures getting closer to a an equal ratio between the sexes.

Autism in Racing was launched in 2021 in partnership with the Racecourse Association and Racing Together, and has so far focussed on providing a safe environment for young people and their families to enjoy a day out at the races. This work makes use of mobile sensory rooms at racecourses and provides support before and during the event, too. Some racecourses have since created permanent dedicated spaces where families can go for quiet time, to use sensory equipment or to connect with other families, while still accessing the sport. Led by examples from Arsenal Football Club, the permanent rooms at Aintree and Cheltenham have been well received by potential racegoers who otherwise might not have been able or wished to attend.

Of those who have attended an Autism in Racing day at a racecourse, an overwhelming 93% have stated they would return if there was a sensory room.

Bobby outlined some aims for phase three of the programme: to build on the success of the racedays, to visit more racecourses and to establish a route into employment in the industry. The Q&A section at the end of the evening raised challenges and issues that may be faced by those with the condition within the sport, creating a positive and productive discussion for attendees.

On the back on the success of the first workshop, Autism in Racing is soon to launch similar evenings in racing centres, including Malton and Newmarket.

To read more about Autism in Racing please follow the below link: Autism in Racing – Racing Together

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