While searching around for ideas for posts, to help provide an insight into our lives, but also provide help and useful info for everyone that visits; I found a search for places to go with an autistic child.
You may have noticed I re-worked that title to places to go with a child with autism, mainly because of the child before diagnosis effort I like to make. Also, as I live in Dorset, I thought I would talk about the places we enjoy going – although there are many places outside of Dorset that we go too.
Also, this list is in no particular order. If anything I think just the – getting outdoors part is the most important thing, not the actual place itself.
1. The Park(s)
Now, this is probably quite an obvious one and I am betting that many of you reading this already take your children to the park.
We don’t particularly have a favourite park per say. There are parks we like because it’s more than just swings and slides. They have areas to walk and ramble around.
There is, also, 1 park in Ferndown we like as it has some special needs facilities too.
Why little Mr loves the park is the sensory input he gets. He loves swinging on the swings, going up and down on the seesaw and he loves things that spin him around. Although he will go on a slide, he doesn’t really head for them. He likes things that give him a big sensory input.
As I say, this may be an obvious one, but it can also be a difficult one for some children with autism just because, if busy, it can be a bit overwhelming.
2. Amusement Parks and Fairs
So, every child is different and some children may find the sensory input of theme parks and fairs too much. Little Mr loves the sensory input he gets from the rides, he loves lots of motions and faster the better. What we do find, though, is that waiting is the biggest issue – so with the more popular theme parks, we tend to go at slightly quieter times.
One of the places we like to visit is Paultons Park. Though to be honest this is not in Dorset, I believe it actually comes under Hampshire – though close enough to Dorset to add to our list. Looking at their website, one thing I think is good (at least at the time of writing this post) is that, for a season pass – for a Wheelchair dependent the cost is FREE. They also make the statement on their website that
A vast majority of the rides and attractions at Paultons, including Peppa Pig World, are designed to be fully accessible to disabled guests
Although, in that statement on their website they also say, that, because of that they do not offer a discounted disabled rate. What we’ve found when we have been there is that, the site itself does have wide paths, there are nice grounds to walk around – little Mr is quite able so can go on most of the rides, though like many theme parks – someone who may be wheelchair dependant may find few (if any) rides they can go on.
The other small theme park we goto a lot (you can see it on our site) is Adventure Wonderland in Bournemouth. The thing about Adventure Wonderland is that it’s quite a small place, there are enough rides to keep him (and not so little Miss) entertained and still have a good time. As it is smaller, it doesn’t get so overcrowded – though it can look busy as smaller in size. There is also an indoor play frame, though little Mr doesn’t like this – but its great for kids that do.
We love going there, we’ve bought summer passes for the past 3-4 years. That said, not so little Miss is getting a little old for the rides there now, there are only a couple of rides that are more grown up as many of for younger kids. It’s a great place to take younger kids though. Access is ok, though the rides again are not really suitable for wheelchair dependent people.
The plus point is that the summer passes are of a reasonable price and they have great deals on and off meaning we get all 4 of us summer passes for under £100 – though prices change so check the website for any deals they have
Fantasy Island Fun Park, Weymouth
I never really think of this as a fun park, it’s more like a fair in my eyes. This little gem of a place, though, is well worth a visit if in Weymouth. Fantasy Island has some great rides that suite both our kids. If you go there – check out the unlimited rides for 3 hours tickets if they still do them – and you plan to be there for a little time.
It’s definitely worth a visit if, in Weymouth, we go there a few times a year as not too far up the road.
3. Museum and Places To Visit
We can all get something from looking at our past. We can learn from mistakes, but better still, we can learn from our successes. Museums are a perfect place to go to learn from our successes. They also allow us to experience things we would not normally.
Here are a few places we find little Mr likes to walk around.
Aviation Museum Bournemouth
When we first started to go here, it was with a plan in mind. We wanted to get little Mr used to the inside of a passenger plane so that we could return to flying away for holidays.
In the beginning, he was hesitant of the place, but these days he absolutely loves going. We have also met a number of other parents who are there with there children who are on the spectrum. Planes seem to hold a fascination with many.
What can you find here? Other than the seating area from a passenger plane or two, there are some old fighter planes, fire engine, bus, helicopter – well more than one of each of the planes and helicopter really.
It gives the kids (and adults) plenty to look around and explore. We paid for a year pass, which to be honest was not that expensive. With this, we tend to go once a fortnight or so and he, they, love it. I think anywhere there is complex and interesting items will be enjoyed.
We’ve only been in this museum a couple of times, but I wanted to list it here as this is the kind of place we may all think of when talking about museums.
There are some very interesting items in the museum, mostly all about local history. From little Mr’s point of view, the most interesting part is the cafe at the top. For a free place to go through, it’s a nice 30-60 minutes to browse.
The Tank Museum
Now, I’m including this here purely as it’s a place, that, someday we will try visiting. That being said, we’ve not been there yet – only driven past it.
If you’re in Dorset on holiday though – it could be a place for you to try.
4. Places to Walk
What can I say, there are soooo many places to go walking in Dorset. You have the forest. You have the beaches and seafront. You have the towns and parks. Let me list just a couple of places we like to go for walks, some of these have free parking and a couple you have to pay.
There’s nothing quite like a late afternoon stroll along the beach. Just when the air is starting to cool. To be honest, though, we also go to this beach some days. It can get busy from time to time, but parking is a little easier than going to, say, the beach at Bournemouth – although you have to pay for parking at all of the beaches around her.
As I was saying, we love to walk along the beach. Little Mr loves to, at times, sit and play on the beach. You can spend quite some time enjoying the view, kids playing and really having a great time for not so much money, less than a cup of coffee at a coffee shop for the parking.
Upton Country Park
You may have seen previous posts of mine, that I talk about Upton Country Park a few times. This is somewhere we often go for a walk. This country park stretches out around the park of Poole Harbour, has a manor house that you can go in at scheduled times, has a nice coffee shop, but best of all has some great walks with nature around.
Now, they have recently started to charge for parking, which is a shame because it was a fantastic free place to visit before. However, it’s only a small cost – so if you looking to get out for a few hours, its a great place for that. Take a picnic. Sit on the grass and enjoy the trees. Little Mr loves walking around, well we all do.
The New Forest
You probably knew this one was coming 🙂 Just down the road from Bournemouth is The New Forest, a place full of wonderful walks, little villages and places to explore and find. We often take a drive, find some free car park and get out for a walk and explore. There are so many places we have not yet visited that it’s just exciting. The kids love visiting. Little Mr is fascinated with the outdoors and so it’s a perfect place to spend a few hours.
Some of the stopping points have flat grass areas which are perfect for picnics. Some have trees, streams, hills and animals all around. You can see so much every visit. This is our number 1 favourite walking place if I am honest, purely because it’s different every time. It just takes a little more effort to get there.
Did you notice the common factor?
I’m not sure if you noticed the common factor in all the places I have listed above? It’s something I have always tried to highlight in my posts, in what we do every day. Ok, just in case it’s not jumped out like a jack-in-the-box, the common factor is ‘The places I talk about are not just for kids with Autism‘. What I am trying to get at is, most places you can go with a child that is not on the spectrum IS the places you can go with a child that is on the autism spectrum.
Ok, so some children may have sensory issues with some of the places, they may not like the sound, colours, etc. Children not on the spectrum may have issues similar too. You know your child and you know what they like and what they don’t like. You know the places you could take them.
I’ve just highlighted, ok in quite a long way – kind of like I was stretching a piece of gum, highlighted places we like to visit. There are many more. I could list Portland Bill, I could list the coffee shops, I could list the harbour. The thing I want you to take away is when someone asks what places to go with a child with autism you tell them – anywhere you like that you and your child feel comfortable. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t be put off or afraid of what others may think or feel. Go out, enjoy life and spend some fun quality time together.
I recently came across the following quote
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
― Maya Angelou
This is my new goal in life. Not to conform to be normal, but to be amazing and I hope to inspire you to be amazing too.