"The moment you realise your child has special needs, or additional needs as I prefer, is the moment normality becomes a thing of the past. Some people embrace their new world without a second thought, whilst others struggle to come to terms with the 'what ifs'. For me it was like a grieving process, I was grieving for the child I had imagined in my head, but for me it involved all three children not just one.
Autism, ADHD EDS, asthma, anaphylaxis & DAMP became my life. The Internet was my main source of research and trips to the paediatrician, physiotherapist and speech therapist became my world.
One of the hardest parts for me is when people don't always see our differences. All three children are in mainstream school, very intelligent and articulate. However, behind the scenes they all have a lot of support which has been embedded by years of school meetings, reports, emotional pleas and calls to the local authority.
Our life is planned and scheduled so that each child is fully prepared and knows what's happening now and next. Dinner has to be planned the night before and sleep is a rare luxury. Trips out need military planning and contingency plans. Knowing what is available to access within your local area and nationally makes a huge difference.
My children, with me behind them, will achieve whatever they aspire to in life. It may not be as straightforward as they would like and they may have more mountains to climb, but climb they will.
So next time you see a child having a meltdown in the supermarket think, could the strip lighting and the noise be causing too much sensory stimulation? Or are they are throwing their book bag in the school playground because all the day's anxieties have built up in them like a rocket about to launch? Please just take a second and consider what they may be going through, before you make a judgement."
Sarah Jefferies lives in Chislehurst with her 3 wonderful children, and is constantly striving to get them the best support possible.
ACCESSIBLE SESSIONS IN OUR AREA
Play Factore, Trafford Quays Leisure Village
Play Factore Disability Sessions, held on the first Thursday of every month 6.30-8.30pm at the UK's largest family entertainment arena. Spend some quality time with the family in a safe, exciting and exclusive environment, meet friends and maybe make some new ones! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Boomerang Multi-Sensory Centre
Our Kids Social
Our Kids Social family events have proven to be popular for families with children who have SEND. Their silent discos ensure that the volume of the music is in the hands of the individual and can be switched off altogether at any time. Their large social events have area for quiet, arts and crafts and space to sit for a drink as well as the traditional dance floor areas. Music is not booming but rather at a level enjoyable for all. Additionally they provide birthday parties which again cater to the needs of the individual and their silent disco parties are perfect for children with sensory difficulties. Find out details of events at www.ourkids.social or request party info at email@example.com
The Lowry, Salford Quays
On the last Sunday of every month Relaxed Playhouse is an accessible visual art activity for children with additional needs aged 5-11 and their families.
The Lowry also hold relaxed performances which are open to everyone but are particularly appropriate for anyone who may find the usual theatre environment challenging. You can see a list of those performances here.
Disability friendly sessions at Inflatanation are designed specifically for those people on the autistic spectrum & their families to enjoy!
They wanted to offer something different for, not only for those with autism generally but specifically for those with autism to take part in an activity that their whole family can enjoy alongside them. These sessions also provide an opportunity for families to meet other families facing similar paths in a fun environment.
What makes the session different?
- The number of participants is halved
- The music is turned down
- A parent/carer can enter the arena FREE of charge with every participant
- There is complimentary juice and biscuits for all participants following the session
Sessions take place Saturday morning at 9am to 10am.
Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool
Sandcastle Waterpark is a fully accessible attraction with a wide range of facilities for guests with additional needs.
Accessible Family Evenings NEW
For a number of years Sandcastle Waterpark has worked with a local charity, Aiming Higher to provide quality leisure time for local disabled children and their families. We have developed these sessions to meet the needs of disabled children so that we create an environment in which both they and their families feel comfortable, supported and where we are able to provide memories and enjoyment for each one of them.
Eureka! has a Gold Award from Visit England for accessibility. Essential carers get in free, they run clubs for disabled children, provide ear defenders to borrow and have a quiet space available.
Adventure Forest Children's Indoor Play Centre, Trafford Park
Exclusive sessions take place for children with additional needs/ autism to play and parents/ carers to socialise and relax in the luxurious cafÃ©.
Autism friendly/ additional needs sessions (1st Sunday of the month, 9:30-11:30am) Please contact Adventure Forest to book.
During these sessions Adventure Forest provide a low stimulus environment for the children e.g no music / flashing lights / hand dryers and they limit the numbers so that it doesn't get over crowded. They provide picture food menus for those that require them and a quiet room for children that may need time out to relax. They also have picture signs around the play centre during the sessions for children that relate better to picture symbols.
They also have a social story on the website for people to look at before they visit so that they know what to expect. The carers / parents also enters the sessions for free.
They have also started providing parties in these sessions for children with autism / additional needs.
A children's changing table is now also available.
Vue Cinema, Altrincham
Autism friendly screenings are held at 10am on the last Sunday of every month during which the lights are left on low, the sound is turned down and trailers and adverts aren't played.
Funtastic Fridays, Cheeky Cherubs, Urmston
An inclusive club is held at Cheeky Cherubs each Friday from 5-7pm for all disabilities, parents, carers and siblings to enjoy activities in a fun, friendly and safe environment.
Simply Cycling, Longford Park and Wythenshawe Park
Everyone is welcome at these friendly, all ability, cycling sessions.
The Ice Cream Farm, nr Chester
Home to the world's largest ice cream shop, The Ice Cream Farm based just outside Chester in Cheshire, offers an amazing flavour of activity. Entry into The Ice Cream Farm is free, and activity admission ranges from £1 to £3.75. However, massive savings can be made through the innovative Play Pass scheme, with passes starting from as little as £12 for four discounted plays. Contact them for details of future Autism friendly sessions.
FREEDOME Aerial Freestyle Trampoline Park',
FREEDOME Aerial Freestyle Trampoline Park', based on Cheshire Oaks, Ellesmere Port, is the next generation in active entertainment, offering much more than just your average trampoline park¦ Every Sunday, between 9am and 10am before the park officially opens to the public, FREEDOME hosts FreeSpirits, an autism-friendly jump session.
OXYGEN FREEJUMPING, Trafford Park
Oxygen Freejumping are aware that going to a standard Freejumping session can be a challenge for Freejumpers on the autistic spectrum, or with sensory or learning disabilities. With this in mind, their weekly Peaceful Play sessions are for specially designed to be all the fun of a Freejump, just a little more peacefully.
Peaceful Play (autism friendly) sessions include:
- Plenty of space - reduced capacity
- Music turned down - no loud announcements
- Strobe lighting turned off - house lights only
SERVICES TO SUPPORT YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN
Making Sense of Special Needs
We are proud to be a social enterprise, founded by a parent of a child with complex needs, who had 18 years as a SENCO, before deciding to offer a holistic package of support to families, in the form of Wraparound. Being a positive employer towards parent carers and those with other disabilities means our team have all sorts of skills and experience, from housing, to mental health support, to clarifying EHCP and SEN support processes. We love nothing more than helping families find their own way through, being a guiding hand, we charge enough to remain totally independent and sustainable whilst being exceptionally affordable too.
If there is anything you are struggling to understand in this world of special needs we can help you make sense of it, this initial conversation is free too.
Phone: 0161 872 6879/ 0161 956 2081
Parent Concern was set up over ten years ago by Sara Murawa an ex Head Teacher of a nursery school in Manchester.
Sara sees children 3-14 years with concentration problems, learning difficulties and SEN [special educational needs].
Sara sees children 1:1 and offers bespoke help.
Sara also sees children with the following challenges: ASD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, delayed speech and those children that just need a little extra help. Many of her pupils have stayed with her for years.
Sara also offers 123 Magic behavioural parenting advice & verbal educational assessments.
Parent Concern also offer evening workshops on subjects such as Homework Wars, Bedtime Battles. Homework Wars on 6th March 2018 (advance booking required).
Raring2go! has provided a round up of local venues which provide accessible sessions for children with disabilities or additional needs. If you'd like to provide additional details to add to our list, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org