Sport Aberdeen marks Autism Awareness Week 2021


March 29 to April 4 is World Autism Awareness Week 2021, an international recognition campaign which aims to improve people’s understanding of autism and help make the world friendlier to those on the autism spectrum. 

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK. 

Charities such as the National Autistic Society work to help and support autistic people and their families in the UK. One such way this is done is by training companies to be more autism-friendly.

Supporting people of all abilities to participate in sport

As a charity focussed on providing opportunities for everyone to be active, we have taken steps over the last few years to ensure that everyone can take part in physical activity regardless of age, gender or ability by making practical moves to improve access to services.

These efforts include providing staff with autism awareness training, hosting regular ‘relaxed’ sessions and creating online ‘walk through’ videos as a means of introducing and familiarising people with venue layouts prior to visiting. We have helped to make services more accessible through our hugely successful autism friendly sessions that run at several different venues, including relaxed family swimming sessions at both Tullos Swimming pool and Get active @ Beach Leisure Centre and relaxed ice-skating sessions at Linx Ice Arena. Find out more about additional support needs swimming sessions here.

The autism friendly skating sessions, run in partnership with We Too!, are open to skaters of all ages and abilities and run throughout the year. The sessions focus on encouraging people with additional support needs to try the sport, offering a safe and welcoming environment with no music and muted lighting. Find out more about the relaxed skating sessions here.

In partnership with We Too!, Sport Aberdeen launched Boost Bands, discreet wrist bands which can be worn during visits to Get active @ Beach Leisure Centre which subtly notify trained staff of any hidden disabilities. The bands, which are free of charge and optional, are thought to be the first of their kind Scotland and were designed to encourage people of any age or ability to participate in sport and physical activity.

Get active @ Beach Leisure Centre and the Linx Ice Arena were among the first sports venues in Scotland to be awarded Autism-Friendly status, with the Linx Ice Area being the first ice rink in the UK to be recognised for its efforts to improve accessibility.

Adventure Aberdeen Snowsports Centre also offers an additional support needs skiing programme which helps participants progress through the sport and meet their skiing ambitions. Developed in partnership with Special Olympics, these lessons are delivered through a series of age-based stages from Tots ASN Skiing to Adult Intermediate and Advanced. Find out more about the additional support needs lessons here.

At Sport Aberdeen we believe that sport and physical activity has the power to change lives, and that everyone should have the opportunity to take part. If you would like more information on any of the autism friendly sessions run by Sport Aberdeen, please email

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