As you may have seen on our Facebook and Twitter pages (please click the links to follow us if you’re not already following us), we’ve been asking for your suggestions for SEN friendly attractions to visit over the Easter holidays. In no particular order, here’s our guide to the top ten places you’ve been recommending.
The Eden Project
A parent who visited the Eden Project in Cornwall has praised their relaxed sessions which take place during school holidays.
This Easter they’ve got lots of new indoor and outdoor games and activities for the whole family to try out at their farm-themed Easter event. If you like bad puns, this is what they had to say on their website:
“Join the Eden Farmers to help round up their animals, and learn what makes crops grow. Play a-mooo-sing games and eggciting activities. Collect stamps to fill up your card and ‘eggschange’ them for cracking prizes!”
Every time we’ve been to Alton Towers it’s been a superb day out for an SEN child. They offer special discount rates for up to three helpers of guests with a disability. The SEN child will pay the full rate but may be eligible for a ‘Ride Access Pass’ which gives specific times for each ride (a godsend if you have trouble with queueing!). If you go to the ‘FAQs and accessibility’ section of Alton Towers’ website you can get more information.
They also have Easter short stay breaks which one parent has recommended (if you get the right weather though!).
The London Eye
We’ve heard some more positive feedback about another Merlin Entertainment attraction. After hearing us talk about our good experiences on the London Eye, a parent took their Autistic son to the Eye and they were treated “like royalty” and had a fabulous time. Great to hear that others have also had an enjoyable visit to the London Eye.
Manchester Central Easter Funfair
Manchester Central welcomes an Easter Funfair to the city this year, with a whole host of rides, funfair games, food and more under one roof. The morning session on Tuesday 16th April will now be an Autism and Sensory Needs Friendly session.
Following guidance from the Autistic Society for the Greater Manchester area, this session will meet the following requirements:
• Quiet as possible• No bright lights
• No flashing lights
• No loud music
• No loud sudden noises
• Staff to provide simple and clear instructions for rides and games
• Limit queuing (into the venue and also on rides)
It definitely looks a lot of fun and we’re planning our trip already!
Tate Britain offers a range of free talks and workshops for adults with learning disabilities via its community programme. Admission to Tate Britain is free but there is a charge for special exhibitions – visitors with a disability pay a concessionary rate and carers go free.
We’ve talked before about how much we like Eureka! in Halifax. They have wonderful support for SEN visitors and it can be a total joy to visit. There are ear defenders to loan, a chill-out room as well as helpful and specially-trained enablers. Did you know if you have a Max Card (the discount card for carers and parents of children with SEN) then you can get free entry for one child and one adult, brilliant! Excellent fun, SEN friendly and free admission, perfect! They have holiday clubs for disabled children but the Easter one is already fully booked up.
Diggerland is a theme park where children can ride, drive and operate diggers, dumpers and other construction machinery. Located in Kent, Devon, Durham and Yorkshire, this is 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 if you notify them of your visit there will be someone on hand all day to ensure your needs are met as much as possible.
The National Football Mueum
Hands up who else has got a son or daughter who’s obsessed with football stats? The National Football Museum is a great place for a football obsessive (like my son!) to visit. It can get busy but they have some great Autism Friendly early openings with the next one taking place on Sunday 14th April from 9am to 10.30am. The staff are great and the relaxed atmosphere makes it a great trip.
Tower of London
We’ve had praise about the Tower of London after a child’s recent visit, which was inspired by reading the excellent David Walliams book “Gangsta Granny” (although we hasten to add that, unlike in the story, they didn’t try to steal the Crown Jewels). Any visitor to the Tower of London with a hidden disability can collect a lanyard from their Welcome Centre. This will discreetly notify staff that you may need extra help, time, or assistance whilst at the Tower. We recommend getting there early to see the Crown Jewels before the tourists arrive. Before you visit, you can download and print off a guide from their website. If needed you can also pre-book British Sign Language tours of the Tower of London.
For those who are in the North West, Jump Space in Stockport is highly recommended by our followers. Jump Space is a specialist centre offering Rebound Therapy, Trampolining and Sensory play with their main group of users being people with disability and their families (siblings are encouraged to take part as well). They provide a safe, fun, understanding and non-judgmental environment for disabled children and young people, many of whom, due to their impairments, are unable to access other forms of sport and activity. The centre is fully accessible with hoist equipment available for the trampolines, ball pool, sensory area and accessible toilet facility.
Finally, although it’s not during the Easter holidays, here’s a bonus event that we wanted to tell you about. At the Lyceum Theatre in London on the 2nd June at 1.30pm, there’s a special performance of the Lion King. The annual “autism-friendly relaxed performance” is specially adapted to be accessible to a wide range of audiences such as those with autism, a learning disability, or anyone with sensory issues. There are extra trained staff on hand, and dedicated quiet areas inside the theatre should anyone need to leave their seat. Click here for tickets.
We’re sure there are loads more places that deserve a mention so if we’ve missed your favourite place off, please let us know, either on our Twitter or Facebook pages or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org