To mark Autism Awareness Week, we’ve rounded up some attractions which cater for children with autism to make your next trip inclusive for all.
Making sure your school trip is suitable, accessible and catered to all children and all abilities can be difficult. From dietary requirements to learning abilities, there are bound to be challenges facing any teacher about to arrange a school trip.
This week (26th March to 2nd April) marks Autism Awareness Week, so here are some inclusive school trips that are available this week, and every other week, all year round.
1. ThinkTank, Birmingham
The ThinkTank in Birmingham Science Museum is a great place to take a class on a Science trip. With plenty of interactive displays, hands-on activities and exhibitions showcasing fun and engaging Science, the museum is bound to strike the interests of most children.
It takes into account children with autism and can offer ear defenders to make a visit quieter for those affected by loud noises. There’s also a chill out room for children who need to take a bit of time out from the hustle and bustle of the busy museum. ThinkTank is also fully accessible for wheelchair users, suiting any schools bringing children who use wheelchairs.
2. LEGOLAND Windsor Resort
Queuing up can sometimes be a tricky task for a child with autism. The theme park in Windsor offers Ride Access Passes which have been designed for guests who don’t understand or are affected negatively by the concept of queuing.
Teachers bringing a child or multiple children with autism can benefit from the pass to ensure their children have a good time and are not stressed out or placed out of their comfort zones. Plus, LEGOLAND offers plenty of educational workshops and sessions, all inspired by LEGOLAND bricks which help develop a number of skills.
Pictured: LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.
With many schools now taking classes out to the cinema, either as an end of term treat or to watch a film which ties in with a subject they are teaching, more and more are offering autism friendly screenings.
Cinemas such as Cineworld now offer this and they involve dimmed lighting, room for children to move around and loud noises are kept to a minimum. Teachers interested in this special offering should contact their chosen cinema to see whether it is something they can provide and when the screenings are available for school groups.
4. Eureka! The National Children’s Museum
This museum in Halifax, West Yorkshire is also accessible for children with autism as well as catering to children with disabilities. An autism friendly guide is available to download before a visit so that teachers and children know what to expect when visiting, as one of the challenges that can face a child with autism is fear of surprises.
If you let the museum know beforehand that you’ll be bringing children with autism on your trip, the team will do what it can to make sure you don’t have to queue for too long. It also offers a chill out room for those who need to step aside from the rest of the class for a moment.
If you’re looking to take a class to the West End or even a local theatre to see a show, many productions and theatres offer autism friendly performances.
Each theatre and show will vary, however, and it’s important to contact the theatre to find out when these performances are available for schools. The Lion King in London’s Lyceum Theatre, for example, offers autism friendly performances, and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will be hosting an autism friendly performance of Peter Pan this spring.
There are plenty of attractions that cater for autism and for a variety of abilities, so that school travel and learning outside the classroom experiences are available for all and aren’t seen as an exclusive.
The best way to approach it is to contact your chosen attractions to see what they can offer. Many attractions will be able to provide autism friendly access, so it’s worth checking before booking.