In 2019, KultureCity forged a groundbreaking partnership with AEW (All Elite Wrestling), just in time for the company’s inaugural event ‘Double Or Nothing’. Initially orchestrated by Cody & Brandi Rhodes, the collaboration aimed to transform AEW into an inclusive platform catering to individuals with diverse sensory needs – encompassing those on the autism spectrum and those grappling with PTSD.
Following the Rhodes’ departure from AEW, the reins of this pivotal partnership were grasped by Tony Khan, Leva Bates, and Amanda Huber. Since then, every AEW event has been certified as sensory inclusive, setting a precedent as the sole major wrestling promotion worldwide to champion this cause.
My Experience Having Sensory Needs
For those who have followed my previous articles, it’s no secret that I was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 4. This unique perspective grants me a distinct lens through which I perceive the world. Sounds have a greater intensity, scents possess heightened potency, and lights appear significantly brighter. At times these issues have stopped me being able to do things I’ve wanted to do.
From my early years, a profound fascination with professional wrestling has been an integral part of my life. Nonetheless, the prospect of attending a live wrestling event was overshadowed by the fear of sensory overload. As I got older, I was fortunate to gradually attend events, aided by personal coping strategies – preparing myself for pyro before it goes off, looking down at my feet during entrances with bright flashing lights, and allowing myself several days after the event to recover from the sensory overload. These techniques enabled me to enjoy the events I had originally only witnessed on television.
How KultureCity & AEW Made It Easier
It’s worth acknowledging that my coping mechanisms might not translate universally across the Autistic spectrum. Numerous venues I have visited in the past didn’t accommodate the use of noise-canceling headphones, an indispensable tool for many with sensory needs. KultureCity resolves this potential issue by providing those with sensory needs with a sensory bag during events, containing headphones, marble fidgets, noodle fidgets, and ID badges. Although seemingly straightforward, this accommodation is a rarity in most wrestling events. Therefore, KultureCity’s provision of these resources for AEW fans constitutes a transformative endeavor.
KultureCity & AEW Sensory Rooms
However, the pinnacle of KultureCity’s contribution to AEW extends beyond these sensory bags – it’s the concept of the sensory room. During AEW’s PPV events, KultureCity identifies a quiet room within the arena, fitting it with sensory equipment and subdued lighting. This sanctuary offers individuals grappling with sensory challenges a respite when they feel overwhelmed.
Back when I was in secondary school, on days when I felt overwhelmed I wouldn’t even be able to go in due to my sensory needs, but a few years into secondary school I was given a pass which meant I could leave the classroom and go to a quieter area if I was overwhelmed. This was a game changer for me, and it resulted in me spending more time in the classroom, as I’d at least be able to attend school, and then just leave the classroom when I needed to, instead of not going in at all. The same logic applies here, knowing you have somewhere to go if needed helps reduce anxiety, and that’s why I’m such a big fan of these sensory rooms, and I hope it’s something that AEW & KultureCity bring to all events in the future.
The Importance Of Writing This Article
I decided to write this article as I felt not enough praise and coverage had been given to AEW & KultureCity since their partnership began in 2019. It’s important these things get coverage as it allows neurotypical individuals to comprehend the profound impact these small accommodations can make for those of us with sensory needs.
I want to thank AEW & KultureCity for working on their commitment to transforming wrestling into a sensory-inclusive domain. I hope the work they are doing together helps inspire other companies to follow in their footsteps. There are a reason they are called ‘sensory needs’ and not ‘sensory wants’, they are something we need. In the pursuit for equality, it represents the bare minimum.