MONTREAL – There’s nothing like the roar of the crowd on a game night, but that famous Bell Centre energy can feel quite different from one fan to another.

A moment of excitement for some can be a source of stress for others, and the Canadiens are committed to giving everyone in attendance reason to celebrate – comfortably and in their own way.

April is Autism Acceptance Month, and another opportunity to reinforce that ethos. The team will do so with continued initiatives first introduced a year ago at every home game – as well as special programming for World Autism Day on Apr. 2.

Since 2023, sensory kits have been available for loan during Bell Centre events at the Client Experience counters in sections 123, 330 and 430. Included in the sensory kits are noise-reducing headphones, a sensory tangle, a stress ball, sunglasses, a GoPop! popper, as well as a timer.

Autism is a lifelong, neurodevelopmental, spectrum condition that affects how a person thinks, learns, experiences their environment, and communicates and interacts with others. Sensory kits can make that experience a calmer one.

The Canadiens’ approach was developed in partnership with Giant Steps, a Montreal-area private school welcoming autistic students aged 4 to 21 years old, and a world leader in autism education and community training.

Now in the second year of a partnership between the two organizations, this season the team is also offering new communication boards at its Client Experience counters. The boards, which aim to give a voice to fans regardless of their speech ability, feature moods, feelings, and needs that can be conveyed by pointing.

The communication board can also be downloaded and printed or loaded onto a tablet at home by clicking here.

Here is an overview of the initiatives in place year-round to welcome autistic fans to the Bell Centre.

  • Sensory kits and communication boards are available for loan at the Client Experience counters in sections 123, 330 and 430;
  • Admission to Bell Centre guided tours is always free for those accompanying a person with a disability or special needs and presenting a Companion Leisure Card (CAL) issued by the Association québecoise pour le loisir des personnes handicapées (AQLPH);
  • Bell Centre team members have received training on how to best support autistic guests and their families;
  • Sensory-friendly shopping is offered at the Tricolore Sports team shop on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to noon. During these hours, store lighting is adapted, and music and screens are turned off;
  • Service dogs are welcome at the arena.

In addition to the above, special initiatives are also in place for Apr. 2, when the team hosts the Florida Panthers on World Autism Day.

  • Anthems by Steven Abadi, who was the first autistic singer to perform on La Voix and is an advocate for inclusion;
  • A T-shirt benefiting the Giant Steps Foundation and Hockey Adapté will be made available for sale, with all profits going to the pair of charitable organizations.

For other tips to make game day a success for autistic guests, visit the Bell Centre’s accessibility guide by clicking here. For tickets to the against Florida on Apr. 2, click here.