Bath City observes Autism Awareness Month

This month is an important one for us (not only on the pitch) as we raise awareness of Autism, with a guest edited piece below from one of our fans. We are proud at Bath City FC to use football as a powerful force for good, bringing people together and a providing a sense of belonging so we hope you will join with us and observe Autism Awareness Month.

Hello, my name is Ian Hedges and I have moderate/severe autism a part of this is that I also have sensory processing disorder. This is a lifelong, pervasive, social disorder. 

I grew up in the 90’s and so had to endure a frankly horrendous time through education and much of my early adult life. Other children would be interested in popular tv programmes or activities which would form part of their social discussions. My interests were mainly around statistics history or politics and therefore I was considered “weird”.

However, on January 28th 2006 that changed. After a lifetime of having little interest in football, I decided to go and watch my local team Bath City. Upon entering Twerton Park, a strange kind of magic dust settled on my shoulders. An electricity was in the air, the smells of food and fresh grass filled my senses as well as the sounds of music, laughter and enthusiastic shouts. The ground somehow seemed far larger than I thought it would be and I became entranced by the occasion. This kind of sensory overload often results in negative outcomes for Autistic people but in this environment, it seemed to be the medicine that I had been looking for all of my life. 

Finally, I had found something than positively impacted my condition and gave me something to be partisan about. I had my socially acceptable subject for discussion at work, but also, I had fallen into something which had captured and inspired my imagination.

There are nearly 1 million autistic people in the UK. I grew up as a social outcast and whilst Bath City helped me to feel a part of something, our society still desperately needs to change!

It is sad then that only around 20% of autistic people are in any form of paid employment. Autistic people suffer a level of discrimination that very few people would believe possible and sadly this might be why autistic people are drastically more likely to self-harm or commit suicide than their neurotypical counterparts. 

The funding for autism awareness is effectively Zero in this country and yet £32 billion is spent each year on care and lost earnings to support people with Autism in the UK. If some of that money was diverted into autism awareness, then we wouldn’t be in a place where the most vulnerable are forced to the very edge of life’s society, and yet this is where we are!

Things will only change if we raise awareness about autism and learn that people with autism are just people who see the world differently to others. Autistic people are often incredibly gifted if you invest the time in getting to know them. As with all minority groups if you hear our voice and give light to our banner, if you celebrate our difference and not shut us out because if it then we can all join together in making our world a more beautiful and diverse place to live.

For those wanting to know more about the support B&NES offers, please contact: