SEN Friendly Events this December
Written by SENsational Tutors Ltd.
You can register for FREE on our website here
Christmas is just around the corner, and there is no better time to make memories with the whole family! However, for some children, particularly those with autism and SEN, the increased noise and crowding that often accompanies Christmas themed events can be a little overwhelming. Here at SENsational Tutors we have compiled some of the best SEN friendly events going on. It’s our Christmas present to you!
1. Silent Disco at Tooting Leisure Centre
As recently shown in Netflix show Atypical, silent discos can be fantastic alternatives to regular discos for autistic or hypersensitive children. The volume button on the headphones allows them to adjust the noise to a level they are comfortable with, and the headphones make any crowds feel a little less overwhelming!
Tooting Leisure Centre has organised what looks to be a fantastic silent disco, with a variety of different music stations! If the silent disco isn’t enough, there are also indoor activities like a bouncy castle, soft play and arts and crafts. There will also be a range of 1:1 SEN advocates at the event. All donations raised go towards running more SEN events and sports activities at Tooting Leisure Centre- so you can boogie away whilst also raising money for a fantastic cause.
This event is December 15th, from 4.00 – 7.30 pm. Tickets cost £7.06 for adults and under 4s or over 16s or £5.98 for 5-16 year olds and disability concession cardholders, but this also covers hot food and light refreshments. A family ticket for two adults and two children is £17.84. They can be bought via this link.
Tooting Leisure Centre, Greaves Place, London, SW17 0NE.
2. Holwood Farm – CASPA Santa’s Grotto Autism and SEN Family Experience
This event is a little way out from London, in Kent. The grotto is designed specifically for children who may struggle with sensory overloads (such as children on the autism spectrum). It involves activities like reindeer food making, cookie decorating and story time with Mr. and Mrs. Christmas. Potential triggers like large crowds, loud noises or queues are minimised.
This is a really fantastic way to make the classic grotto visit accessible to all children! There is no age limit, as director Helen Dyer explains: “sometimes the children are 15 or 16 and it’s an occasion they haven’t ever been able to share before.” The grotto is organised by Bromley-based charity Children on the Autistic Spectrum Parents’ Association (CASPA).
It is open Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th of December, from 10.30 am – 4.00 pm. Tickets MUST be purchased ahead of time online by clicking here Tickets cost £15 per child, and £2 for adults or children under 2.
The address is: Holwood Farm Shop & Coffee Shop, Yellow Barn, New Road Hill, Keston, Kent, BR2 6AB.
3. VIscovery days at the Science Museum
The Science Museum houses a wide range of inspiring objects, exhibitions, workshops and activities for all ages engaging them in scientific achievement. VIscovery days were created to help people who are visually impaired enjoy the museum experience.
These are specifically designed for families with members who are visually impaired, partially sighted or blind to enable them to enjoy and participate in events around the museum and enjoy a fantastic museum experience. These events take place throughout the year and include audio-described shows, object handling and captivating storeytelling, which are helpful and fun!
The events are free, however booking is required. The next VIscovery event will take place on Saturday 26 January 2019. Booking is not available yet, however you can find out more via this link.
4. SEN Early Explorer Mornings at London Transport Museum
London Transport Museum is a fabulous place for families to have fun and explore the history and development of London’s transport network over the last 200 years! The collection includes vehicles, engines, photos and posters, as well as many other objects. You can step onto an old train carriage or even come across a horse and carriage!
The Museum offers early morning sessions outside their regular opening hours for families with members with SEN and autism. These sessions allow children with SEN enjoy some quiet time free from the noise of the general public and the regular sound effects of the gallery. During these sessions children can explore the different exhibits, get hands-on with the vehicles on display or use the Museum’s Sensory Bags to support them while they explore the collections.
Advanced booking is essential as places are limited. You can book your tickets by pone on 020 7565 7298. Children and young people under 18 go free. Adult tickets are £17.50 (concession £15) . For more information, click here.
5. Autism/SEN Friendly Cinema Screenings
There is no better time than Christmas to catch some of the latest family-friendly films at your local cinema! However, for children with SEN and autism, the cinema experience can be extremely overwhelming, noisy and unpleasant.
Cinemas across the UK are offering special screenings, such as Autism-friendly screenings to meet the needs of children with SEN and their families. During these special screenings the sounds are turned down, lights are low and there are no adverts before the films starts.
The cinema staff are aware of the needs of those attending and people are free to move around and choose their own seats. This creates an inclusive and welcoming feeling and enables children with SEN enjoy a full cinema experience!
This Christmas you can catch an autism-friendly screening of Mary Poppins Returns at Cineworld. To find your nearest screening and book your tickets click here.
Odeon Cinema is offering autism-friendly screenings of Wreck it Ralph and Fantastic Beasts. You can book your tickets via this link.
6. SEN Hour Santa’s Grotto at Brent Cross Shopping Centre
Bring your children along while you go shopping at Brent Cross this December as they will get the chance to meet Santa! Available every day until 24th December, the Grotto is FREE to enter and every child who visits receives a gift! They are offering SEN Hour – a specific quiet time for children with additional needs visiting the Grotto.
It is recommended to book in advance for SEN Hour as places are limited and many slots are now fully booked. You might be lucky though and the website states that, “if your chosen day is fully booked, walk up bookings may be available at the grotto”. Booking costs £1 and can be done online here
7. Kew Gardens
For sensory seekers and visual thinkers, Kew Gardens is an amazing experience! Here you can walk through a trail of over one million beautiful lights! Compared to many other Christmas events, this is a lot less noisy.
Try booking at off peak times to avoid crowds, although we will say that a little bit of crowding is inevitable at a place like this.
This runs from 22 November 2018 to 5 January 2019 from 5.00 pm – 10.00pm. Hurry up and grab your tickets at this link as there are only a few remaining!
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE.
8. Winter Funland
The largest indoor winter wonderland in the UK has recently announced they will run a special, sensory friendly session for children with special educational needs.
This consists of fewer crowds, lowered volume, fewer flickering lights and a special “chill out zone” that children can go to if they are overwhelmed. The family can participate in activities like visiting Santa, skating around the ice trail and attending live shows. Once inside, everything is free!
This session is at Wednesday 12th December, at 5pm. Tickets can be purchased here and cost £24, with children under 3 entering free.
The address is EventCity, Barton Dock Rd, Manchester M41 7TB.
Remember- every child is different! What may be an incredible experience for some children with SEN may be triggering for others. Here at SENsational Tutors we advocate a flexible approach! When attending any event, make sure to frequently check the comfort level of your child, and remember- it is not a failure if you have to leave an event!
From all of us, have a fantastic Christmas!
For more tips and advice on how to help children with SEN, read our blog: How to support the Sensory needs of Children.