Live

Repeat: Off The Ball

02:00 AM-05:00 AM

Repeat: Off The Ball
Advertisement
Soccer

James McClean on dealing with daughter's autism | "It's a challenge for her and us"

Republic of Ireland midfielder James McClean has spoken movingly about dealing with his daughter ...



Soccer

James McClean on dealing with daughter's autism | "It's a challenge for her and us"

Republic of Ireland midfielder James McClean has spoken movingly about dealing with his daughter Willow's autism, as he launches a sensory hub at the Aviva Stadium.

Willow McClean is two years old and, while yet to be diagnosed with autism, McClean believes one to be due shortly that will show Willow and her family the extent of what she will have to contend with.

The hub at the Aviva is designed to limit sensory influences on young people and adults that can become very distressed by them.

Sensory hub

McClean has begun to see signs of such behaviour in Willow, but only in situations where certain triggers can exacerbate autism.

"It is not a big stress. It is definitely a challenge for me and my wife; I didn't know much about autism.

"My nephew is autistic as well - he's seven. But up until then, I didn't know much about it. He is back home in Derry, so I didn't see much of what it is on a day-to-day basis.

"With Willow, we are seeing what things are like on a daily basis and as she gets older, things are more of a challenge for her, and for us."

McClean is clearly a besotted father and does not speak about spectrum disorders with the hushed tones that people encountering children with them often do.

But it was not long since McClean himself was someone that would struggle to differentiate autistic behaviour from a tantrum.

"She hasn't been to an Ireland game yet because bringing her on an aeroplane is a crowded space, with people that she doesn't know - she gets very worked up.

"I'm in a privileged position where I can get a box at Stoke or with Ireland where she can be behind glass away from the noise, and my wife and children get to watch the game as well."

McClean on dealing with autism

McClean is sensitive to his position as having more available to him to help support Willow, with the finances involved for football players.

"It must be so difficult [with fewer resources] - it's difficult for us.

"Having the [sensory hub] so people can come to games, and not have to pay for it and make more use of it.

"It would be nice if there were more free public rooms and places that people can use [to calm.]

"I can tell you first-hand that going shopping with Willow is a struggle because she sees people she doesn't recognise, she's out of her routine and you can see her wee body get so tense."

However, McClean brings a determined and positive outlook to not only what the family, but also wider society, can offer to support people with autism.

"Willow is healthy, she's a happy baby and we are able to give her the best life we can. Just because she has autism doesn't mean we love her any less."

Aviva, Ireland’s largest insurer, has installed a new sensory hub in the Aviva Stadium as part of its long-running sponsorship of the home of Irish rugby and soccer.

The hub will be accessible to all fans with sensory issues such as ADHD, dyspraxia and autism attending matches including the upcoming Six Nations home fixtures.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


Read more about

Autism Ireland James Mcclean McClean

Live: Title

Description

Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share

Next up in queue

Title
Description
Duration

There are currently no podcasts in the queue

Go to podcasts

On Air

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

02:00 AM-05:00 AM

Share

Up next

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

05:00 AM-07:00 AM

Share

OTB's Crappy Quiz

OTB's Crappy Quiz

07:00 AM-07:30 AM

Share

LIVE: OTB AM

LIVE: OTB AM

07:30 AM-10:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

10:00 AM-12:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

12:00 PM-01:00 PM

Share

OTB Gold

OTB Gold

01:00 PM-02:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

02:00 PM-03:00 PM

Share

LIVE: Friday Night Racing

LIVE: Friday Night Racing

03:00 PM-04:00 PM

Share

Highlights on Off The Ball

Highlights on Off The Ball

04:00 PM-06:00 PM

Share

OTB Gold

OTB Gold

06:00 PM-07:00 PM

Share

LIVE: Off The Ball

LIVE: Off The Ball

07:00 PM-08:00 PM

Share

Repeat: Friday Night Racing

Repeat: Friday Night Racing

08:00 PM-09:00 PM

Share

Team 33

Team 33

09:00 PM-10:00 PM

Share

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

10:00 PM-12:00 AM

Share

Repeat: OTB AM

Repeat: OTB AM

12:00 AM-02:00 AM

Share

Repeat: Off The Ball

Repeat: Off The Ball

02:00 AM-05:00 AM

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on