SEN-friendly Summer in London
Our guide to activities this summer for kids with autism, learning disabilities and special educational needs (SEN) in and around London
As any parent of a SEN child already knows, finding summer fun activities suitable for your little one can sometimes prove to be quite a challenge. Thankfully, there are plenty of events happening in or around London this summer which are specially designed to suit SEN kids which are going on this summer. Here’s our pick of some of the highlights.
Discover stories and art for kids who have special needs
The Discover Centre is a gem of a place for families to flock to, located on the High Street, in Stratford, east London. The UK’s first Story Centre for children aged 0-11 and their families, the aim of the centre is to create a love of language, literature and stories.
This summer, Discover are holding a series of events which focus on storytelling or drawing. All the events they hold are SEN-friendly.
To catch a peek of what it’s like there, have a look at the quick video below:
Events taking place this summer at the Discover Centre include:
27 July: Illustration Takeover Day with Adam Stower (ages 4+)
30 July: Storytelling with Tom Percival (ages 4+)
8 August: Musical Storytelling with Helen Macdonald (ages 4+)
Plus many more!
Visitors will need to buy a day pass to access the centre’s Story World and Story Garden, but many of the events going on this summer are free to attend for local (Newham) residents.
If you’re planning to make a visit and have any specific questions or requirements, the centre welcomes enquiries so to get in touch just call 020 8536 555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cinema screenings for kids on the autism spectrum
There are now various cinemas which provide SEN-friendly film screenings where families, as well as their friends and carers, can enjoy a film in an environment that’s designed for people with Asperger’s Syndrome or who live with autism.
The national cinema chains which regularly offer autism-friendly screenings include Odeon, Vue, Cineworld and Showcase. To find a SEN-friendly screening for these cinema chains, we recommend visiting their websites to see if there are any on offer and getting in touch with them directly if you have any specific questions that aren’t covered in their website.
For instance, to find out whether SEN-friendly screenings are available at your local Odeon cinema, visit their website and select the “Autism Friendly Screenings” or AFS filter when viewing the film selection where you’d like to go to. If there aren’t any AFS screenings displayed, it might be the case that there’s no autism- friendly screenings that week.
For more advice about this, contact the Odeon’s Disability and Accessibility Helpline on 0800 138 3315 or ask in your local Odeon cinema.
What’s different about film screenings suitable for kids who have Asperger’s or are on the autism spectrum?
During the film, low lights are left on inside the auditorium and the film soundtrack is quieter than it would be in a regular film screening. Another difference is that there are no trailers screened before the main film at AFS screenings.
These screenings also don’t restrict the audience from moving around, making a noise or taking a break in the middle of the film screening if they need or want to. Other cinema companies which offer SEN-friendly film screenings include Picturehouse and Empire.
Become a history explorer
Every few months the Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands offer ‘Morning Explorers’ free events, when they open their doors especially early (at 8.30am instead of usual 10am) to provide an informal, SEN-friendly atmosphere for families to tour the exhibits.
These sessions are designed to be sensitive to the needs of children who are on the autism spectrum and under the age of 13.
The next ‘Morning Explorer’ event at the Museum of London Docklands is about some of the city’s Secret Rivers and is taking place on 17 August. Find out more or book your place here.
Take a tour of the tower
Did you know that the Tower of London has produced a short guide, with help from the National Autistic Society, which is especially designed for children who are on the autism spectrum, their parents and families?
The guide covers what you can expect to see and how you can best plan your visit. So, if you’ve never seen the Crown Jewels before, perhaps this summer is the ideal time to take a look!
Get a little wild
Outdoor Wild Play has been shown to be helpful for children with a variety of special needs, including Asperger’s Syndrome. Wild Learning is an organisation which offers Wild Play sessions at Holiday Club events all through the summer, at various locations in and around London.
Some of the benefits of Wild Play include building confidence, improving communication skills, encouraging empathy and social awareness and helping with co-ordination.
Wild Learning strongly recommend contacting them on 01483 424 400 for a chat before making any booking if you have a SEN child, as the activities may not be suitable for all.
We hope that you have a SENsational summer!
At SENsational Tutors Ltd, we aim to inspire a love of learning through fun and exciting activities. We offer tailor-made support packages in London during the school holidays and on regular, weekly basis. Sessions can be combined with additional behaviour or communication support, if necessary.
For ideas about how to boost your child’s love of reading, read our blog on How to inspire your child with SEN’s love of reading; tips for parents
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