At Freedom Care we are only too aware that when someone in the family has complex health needs it affects not just that individual but the whole family. In our blogs we will therefore include occasional features about events and facilities that are particularly geared towards families with complex health needs. Recent blogs have featured special toy store openings and exclusive film screenings for families with autism,  and we thought it would be good to expand on that theme and see what other family activities are available for families with complex needs.

Because we are based in Leicestershire we have predominantly focused on attractions and events within easy travelling distance of there. An exception is our final example – Legoland – because of the wonderful reviews it has achieved – see more details below. But it is particularly encouraging when looking into this to find such a wide variety of places to choose from that seem to be geared towards families with complex needs.

Alton Towers

This well-known resort in Staffordshire is a theme park, water park, and hotel complex all rolled into one! Perfect for a family outing. It offers disabled guests a Ride Access Pass which gives specific times for each ride. It also offers special discount rates for up to three helpers of guests with a disability. Lots more information available on the “Guests with Disabilities” section of the Help Centre on Alton Towers’ website.

Drayton Manor

This theme park is in the grounds of the former Drayton Manor near Tamworth in Staffordshire. It features rides, a zoo and Thomas Land, where children can go on the Thomas the Tank Engine ride. One parent of a child with Asperger syndrome particularly recommends Drayton Manor as they did not have to wait in long queues. More details of the venue are on their website.

Eureka!

This interactive children’s museum is based in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Children can play to learn and grown-ups learn to play! It has hundreds of interactive, hands-on exhibits designed to inspire children aged 0 to 11. All essential carers of disabled visitors get free admission and Eureka! also offers support for disabled children and their families, with a trained ‘enabler’ accompanying you during your visit. It also runs a range of events and clubs for children with disabilities, including one for children with autism. More details on their website here.

Thinktank

Thinktank is an Award-winning science museum in Birmingham with over 200 hands-on displays on science and technology. Attractions range from steam engines and talking robots through to gurgling guts and a chocolate wrapping machine. It offers a range of concessionary prices and  can provide workshops for groups of people with learning disabilities. Please see the ‘Accessibility’ section of their website for more information.

Legoland

Legoland is based in Windsor, Berkshire. It is a child-oriented theme park and resort themed around the Lego toy system. It is very accommodating of families with complex health needs and admits one carer without charge when accompanying a disabled child. There are also special ride access passes, allowing special access to ten rides.

Comments from satisfied customers – all from families with complex needs – include:

“When it does get crowded go to the miniature village for an hour. The kids love it. The park is very brightly coloured and very visual.”

“If you have a list of ASD-friendly places to visit Legoland Windsor should go to the top of the list!  When we visited, all four of us had a fantastic time. Every one of the staff was superb.”

“I just wanted to praise Legoland. We have had our best day out EVER!  My six year old autistic son was made to feel welcome, he could participate with his brother on all the rides and attractions which was very important to us. The staff were excellent with him, especially in the driving school when he was hugging the young girl helping him! The big, bright lego shapes and colours were ideal for keeping his attention. The exit pass scheme was fantastic and well-managed. Thank you, Legoland.”

We hope that this article has given you some ideas and inspiration for potential days out with your family. Please do let us know of other venues that you come across that understand and accommodate families with complex needs; we would be delighted to feature them in a future blog!

*Source:  The National Autistic Society

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