As parents and carers, we are always looking for new places to go with our children that will cater for their needs and be mindful of the challenges they may face socially and emotionally. I always find it super stressful when we are out and about with Grace, especially in super busy environments as she can get triggered by lots of people talking at once and large crowds.
I have found some amazing places that are SEN friendly and even offer special times/days that are more suitable for people with Special Needs. I hope you find them useful!
The Cutty Sark (London) – This fab place has braille and tactile models, as well as blue badge parking for those who need it. Carers do go free to this venue and there is a concessionary rate for disabled visitors, however, some parts of the ship aren’t accessible to wheelchair users. It’s also amazing that many of their staff are trained on Autism Awareness and Sensory Issues, so they can be on hand to offer support if needed. You can find out more here www.rmg.co.uk/cutty-sark
The RAF Museum (London) – We’ve actually taken Grace here and she had a fab time! This venue has a dedicated trail for visitors on the spectrum! There is plenty of parking on site (including disabled bays) and it is fully accessible for wheelchair users. Amazingly, there is also adult changing facilities, complete with a hoist – which is perfect for both adults and older children who use nappies. In some parts of the exhibitions, they even have smells and sounds that enhance the experience – which is amazing for those sensory seekers! You can find out more here www.rafmuseum.org.uk
Discover Children’s Story Centre (London) – This place looks perfect! There are multi-sensory parts of the centre – including installations, exhibitions and toys! All storytelling sessions are led by trained Story Builders who can support children with SEN, EAL and disabilities. They use creative techniques to interact with children using auditory, visual and kinaesthetic ways of communicating. You can find out more here www.discover.org.uk
The Odeon puts on special screenings all over the UK for those who are on the spectrum or have learning difficulties and struggle to go to the cinema during peak times. During these times, lights are dimmed, you are able to bring your own food and drink and the audience can move round the cinema as they like, which is fab for those who struggle being confined to a seat. They also lower the volume, remove the trailers before the film and open up the cinema a little earlier to ensure that people get used to their surroundings – how amazing is that! You can find out more here www.odeon.co.uk/accessibility/autism-friendly/
Stockwood Discovery Centre (Luton) – This is such a fab place to visit – the centre is full of interactive exhibitions, the largest carriage collection in Europe AND multisensory gardens! Exhibitions are designed to be multi-sensory and hands-on, so there is no need to worry about your kids wanting to touch everything – I know the fear! The entire place is also wheelchair accessible, however there are some slopes you may need to push them up at times! You can find out more here www.culturetrust.com/venues/stockwood-discovery-centre
Digger Land Theme Parks (All over UK) – This is an exciting one to visit – what’s better than riding diggers?! Carers go free with any paying disabled person and there is also disabled parking on site near the main entrance. Unfortunately, they do not have adult changing facilities on site, however they do have disabled and wheelchair access toilets. Digger land are one of the first organisations to “Connect to Autism”, a national campaign to improve access to facilities and services for people with autism. Staff have undergone special training and there will be someone on hand all day to ensure your needs are met as much as possible. You can find out more here www.diggerland.com
Thinktank Museum (Birmingham) – This wonderful museum offers ‘Morning Explorers’ sessions where they open the museum to those with Sensory Issues or Visitors on the Spectrum before allowing the general public in to ensure it is not too loud or crowded for them. This is also provided at a discounted rate! They also provide ear defenders to those who struggle with large crowds and loud sounds, as well as having a super cool relaxation sensory room to use! To find out more, go to www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/thinktank
Eureka! Children’s Museum (Halifax) – In order to help prepare for your visit, you are able to download a sensory guide – how cool is that! It’s a fantastic visual aid for those that need it! At this museum, carers go free and they are also part of the ‘Sunflower Lanyard’ Scheme – you can pick one up for FREE and their tills. This award winning Autism Friendly Museum also boasts adults changing facilities with hoists, changing mats etc. To find out more, please go to www.play.eureka.org.uk
Thames Valley Adventure Playground (Maidenhead) – I’ve just stumbled across this facility – and I am amazed! This is a charity fun facility, based solely on aiding those who are disabled, as well as their families. They boast specialist indoor and outdoor play areas for both adults and children. They also provide a day care facility and respite breaks! They also have an amazing sensory room for relaxation and multiple playrooms in which you can do arts & crafts, workshops, dressing up and so much more! This is such an amazing organisation – to find out more go to www.tvap.co.uk