2021-2022 UPDATE – A Parent’s Guide to Autism-Friendly Museums, Cinema and Theatre in London.

Many of the big London museums have special sessions for children/families with SEND. The sessions tend to be outside of the usual opening hours, so very early or twilight, and offer a more relaxed experience.

  • no crowds
  • siblings and families welcome/encouraged
  • helpful/ trained staff
  • often lighting and sound levels are adjusted
  • quiet areas and breakout spaces with sensory toys
  • you can take your own food and drink
  • social/visual stories available on websites
  • often the gift shop is closed – or you don’t have to exit through the gift shop! Thankfully, gift shops are a nightmare for us!
  • these sessions are heavily discounted or free. The ticketed exhibitions in the big museums are free and the museums that charge (usually around £16-£18) are often a nominal fee of a couple of quid!

I have become quite dependent on these SEND sessions as, without them, accessing museums and galleries is, for us and Eden, a flipping headache! Be mindful, those in the know jump on these sessions as soon as they are advertised and they can book up/sell out quickly. My top tip: Booking usually opens a month before the event – put that date in your diary and remind yourself to book tickets as soon as booking opens.

These are the events that I have discovered so far – if you have any more, please let me know by commenting on the post – the more we know the better!!

Autism-Friendly Sessions at London Museums

DAWNOSAURS @ THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

Upcoming dates: SUNDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2021, 8-10am, FREE – You can book tickets for Dawnosaurs one month before each event.  Tickets are limited; first come, first served and max 6 tickets per booking. BOOKING OPEN NOW

EARLY BIRDS @ THE SCIENCE MUSEUM

Upcoming dates: SPRING 2022, 8-10am, FREE. Book in advance – booking opens one month before the event

Eden at Early Birds at the Science Museum

EARLY EXPLORERS @ London Transport Museum

Upcoming dates: SATURDAY 11 DECEMBER 2021, 8.30-10am. FREE. website states that children are free and adults pay the usual entry, when we visited we all got in for free. Book in advance

Eden at the London Transport Museum

MORNING EXPLORERS @ MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS

Upcoming dates: 18TH JULY 2021, 9-10:30am FREE

Morning Explorers at the Museum of London

AUTISM FRIENDLY EARLY OPENING @ TOWER BRIDGE

Upcoming dates: SATURDAY 16 OCTOBER AND SATURDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2021 AT 10:30, 10:50 and 11:10. Book in advance. Charges apply but concessions and free companion make it very cheap!

Early Opening at Tower Bridge

RELAXED DISCOVERY MORNING @ SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE

DATE TBC, 8.30-10am. Tickets £8.50

Shakespeare’s Globe

EARLY MORNING EXPLORERS @ THE BRITISH MUSEUM

Upcoming dates: TBC 8-10am. FREE

POST EARLY: RELAXED MORNINGS @ THE POSTAL MUSEUM

Upcoming dates: 21 DECEMBER 2021, 10-15:30. £1 per person

Postal Museum

RELAXED OPENING OF THE SUMMER EXHIBITION @ THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS

Upcoming dates: TUESDAY 9 NOVEMBER 2021, 6:20-8:30PM

AUTISM HOUR: LONDON BUS MUSEUM @ BROOKLANDS MUSEUM

Upcoming dates: TBC – keep an eye on the website. Surrey. 9-10am. From £7

Eden driving a bus at Brooklands Museum

Organisations and Opportunities You Need To Know About!

Autism in Museums – use their handy calendar to find events near you!

OperaUNITY at Opera Holland Park. Tickets approx £5 each. 2020 date TBC

The Engine Shed run train clubs and events for children with autism (they run clubs for adults with autism too). Various locations

Cinema

For CINEMA – check out DIMENSIONS. They partner with the big (and small) cinema chains to put on autism-friendly screenings all around the country. Check out what’s on and when at a cinema near you.

Theatre

For THEATRE – follow Mousetrap Theatre Projects. They offer two relaxed performances of top shows each year. We saw School of Rock last year; it was an amazing experience for Eden and very chilled for us. Unbelievably for a West End show, I paid £18 for 2 adults and 2 children!

If you have any top tips or unmissable events for children and young people with SEND, do comment on the post – share the knowledge!!

I hope you get to try some of these!

Enjoy! Amy x

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