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Autism-Friendly Activities for Family Fun

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is much more common than you might think. In fact, around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families, this means autism is a part of daily life for over three million people.

Everyday life can become a real challenge and family activities that many of us take for granted become stressful. But with planning and careful thought, family days out can become a fun experience for all once again.

So with World Autism Week around the corner, we have come up with a few ideas of activities that are ASD-friendly below. Do take a look online to find places that are local to you and please note, every child is different and you will need to take the individual needs of your child into account when planning a day out.

Attending a Theatre Production

Some theatres have introduced ASD friendly showings that have a reduction in sound levels, some changes to lighting and loud sound effects and strobe lighting taken out. 

There is also a relaxed attitude to movement in and out of the auditorium and designated chill-out areas available. Here is a list of current shows that offer ‘relaxed’ performances, aimed at people with a range of needs including those with ASD. 

Family Shopping Trip

Lots of children with ASD and their families avoid going on shopping trips because of the overwhelming noise and glaringly bright lights.  With this in mind,  some shops offer extra opening hours where the lights are dimmed and noise reduced.

The National Autistic Society has introduced an ‘Autism Hour’ to encourage shops, restaurants and leisure centres to have an ASD-friendly hour and raise awareness of Autism. 

Awareness of hidden disabilities is increasing too, with signs on accessible toilet doors noting that “not every disability is visible”, to help those who don’t have physically obvious needs feel more comfortable using these toilets without fear of confrontation.

Seeking Thrills at a Theme Park

Many theme parks offer special rates for ASD children and their carers; they also offer ‘fast passes’ so that the queues can be jumped, to help those who struggle to wait or are sensitive to crowds.  Offers are specific for each park, so take a look at the guides for each theme park below:

Catching a Film at the Cinema

Crowds, semi-darkness and loud movie speakers can transform what should be a pleasurable experience into something traumatic for children with ASD. Many cinemas offer special showings for those who find the traditional cinema experience stressful. 

During the film, low lights are left on, the volume is reduced and there are no trailers.  Cinema-goers are also free to move around, make a noise or take a break during the film. Cinema websites contain details on their websites. 

A trip to London

The London Eye offers a special discounted rate to guests through the disabled booking line. An accompanying carer will receive a free ticket for the same ‘flight’. To book tickets, call +44 (0)871 222 0188 or email accessiblebooking@londoneye.com.

The Tower of London has produced a short guide for children with ASD and their families. The guide will tell you about the Tower’s most popular sites, what you can expect to see, and how you can best plan your visit. Visitors with a disability are eligible for admission at the concessionary rate, and a carer is given entry free of charge.

This is just a taster of what is out there – a quick search online will reveal a whole host of experiences that have been adapted to make them more enjoyable for a child with ASD.