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!
- 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
Upcoming dates: TBC- join mailing list 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.
Upcoming dates: Saturday 16th April 2022, 8-10am, FREE. Book in advance. BOOK NOW
Upcoming dates: Depot Open Day, 3rd July 2022, 8.30-10am. SEND Explorer Events, Multiple dates between April and December 2022. 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
Upcoming dates: TBC 9-10:30am FREE
Upcoming dates: Saturday 15 March AND Saturday 16 April 2022 AT 10:30, 10:50 and 11:10. Book in advance. Charges apply but concessions and free companion make it very cheap!
Upcoming dates: TBC 8-10am. FREE
Upcoming dates: 11 April 2022, 10-5pm, £6
Upcoming dates: TBC – keep an eye on the website. Surrey. 9-10am. From £7
Special Interest Groups
The Engine Shed run train clubs and events for children with autism (they run clubs for adults with autism too). Various locations
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. Relaxed screenings of Sonic 2 and The Bad Guys are showing at Odeon and Cineworld on Sunday 3 April 2022.
Make sure you register for an Access Card and check out any other schemes offered by your Local Authority. The Access Card is a no hassle way to get a free carer ticket at the cinema.
For THEATRE – follow Mousetrap Theatre Projects. They offer two relaxed performances of top shows each year. We’ve seen Mamma Mia, School of Rock and Nutcracker – tickets £15 max
Relaxed Theatre for 2022
I wanted to also include a note about theme parks and the benefits of Merlin Passes. We have had ours for a few years now and each year they prove to be incredible value. I pay for premium passes by monthly direct debit and, because Eden has a disability, I get a carer’s pass for free. You can also register for an access pass at any of the parks so that you get more assistance and don’t have to join the main queue. Plus you get 20% off in shops and restaurants! Considering gate tickets are around £60 per person (to stand in queues for hours) it is amazing value and my littluns are especially fond of Chessington and Legoland!
I hope you get to try some of these!
If you have any top tips or unmissable events for children and young people with SEND, do comment on the post – share the knowledge!!
Enjoy! Amy x