(This article is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned. I aim only to raise awareness for and praise the efforts made by them.)
1.) The PlayPark in Exeter
Does your child love the playground? Is it sometimes difficult for them to play there though? I know when I was little, I liked the park the very best when it was quiet and no one else was there. However, the PlayPark in Exeter is the ultimate accessible playground in the UK, and the 6th most accessible in the world! For physically disabled children, and children with ADHD and Autism, this playground is a must-visit. Just a few of the features are the AbilityWhirl (a wheelchair accessible roundabout), a wheelchair-friendly seesaw, and a swing set with Octavia (a device that provides pleasing noises to encourage children to keep swinging and being active).
You can download a PDF to make a social story here: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/37df48_ecb13b09e37f4cfa8b1f5fd7a713bbe4.pdf
Check out the website for more details on the playground here: https://www.theplaypark.co.uk/play-equipment
2.) Warrington Play & Sensory Centre
Warrington, in Cheshire, is home to the Warrington Play and Sensory Centre – an indoor soft play built to be accessible for children and adults with limited mobility, sensory problems, and includes a DVD player and chill out zones for easily overwhelmed guests. They have calm and active zones, a sensory room with a hoist, and a café (with a menu you can download beforehand on their website to prepare guests who need to know things like that in advance). As this venue is for both children and adults with disabilities, there is more room than there would ordinarily be in this kind of venue, so claustrophobia is less of an issue.
Their website is here: http://www.warringtonsensorycentre.org/
And their menu can be downloaded here: http://www.warringtonsensorycentre.org/media/1106/cafe-menu-new.pdf
3.) The Victoria & Albert Museum – London
One of the single most accessible places in London is this museum. If your child has autism, you can breathe a sigh of relief at how wonderfully inclusive they are here. The Museum has created family packs in the form of backpacks that can be borrowed for free from the Information Desk. They include maps, toys to touch, activity suggestions and ear defenders. PECS symbols and a photo booklet are included to help with communication, and have been created in collaboration with autistic children and their families. They have a quiet room, which you can ask the staff to point you toward in case of meltdowns.
People with autism can take a virtual tour before they go and download the pre-visit guide here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/making-sense-pre-visit_8ee53a5dd7448164b9c6a42b6ae7eee5.pdf
Their website page on visiting with an autistic child is here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/learning/sen/visiting-autistic-child/
4.) Ice Skating – Sheffield
iceSheffield has mobility ice sessions where wheelchairs are allowed on the ice, and stewards can be asked to push wheelchairs if contacted in advance. They also have bumper car sessions, which are very fun! A hoist is available in the downstairs changing room, and ramps and lifts mean the building is accessible. I have emailed asking for comments on when the next available session is, and I will let you know via Twitter (so follow @SafeCinemas and keep checking back!)
The website is here: https://siv.org.uk/ice_sheffield/icesheffield-disabled-access
5.) LEGOLAND Windsor
For any parent who has brought a child to LEGOLAND knows how much of an attack it can be on the senses. Huge primary coloured blocks, thousands of over-excited children, and you with your child in the eye of the hurricane. However, LEGOLAND have gone above and beyond to make their park accessible. Ride Access Passes are reserved for guests who do not understand the concept of queuing; have difficulties with everyday social interaction; have a limited capacity to follow instruction or to understand others’ emotional feelings or expressions, and may therefore become agitated or distressed if they had to queue for a ride for an extended period of time.
Wheelchair users may remain within their chair on the following rides and attractions:
LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display
X-Box® 360 Gaming Zone
You can read their full accessibility guide here:
I hope this has given you some ideas about what you could do with your child. All of these are accessible to any able-bodied or neurotypical siblings, so it’s fun for everyone! If you have any other ideas, leave them in comments or tweet them at us!
Stay safe, friends. x