Days out when your child has physical or sensory difficulties can be challenging. Even if your childisn’t registered disabled you may have to be mindful of triggers that upset them. With some suggestions from parents and help from Diverse Abilities we’ve put together some ideas that we hope will help as you all deserve to have a great time!
Animals can bring great comfort to children and provide a great day out to those with an interest.
New Forest Wildlife Park (www.newforestwildlifepark.co.uk) was recommended by parents in particular. Some terrain may be tricky with a wheelchair but the peaceful woodland setting was popular as was the playground! For children that are quite tactile, bookable animal handling experiences can be particularly engaging and available at New Forest Wildlife Park, Liberty’s Owl, Raptor and Reptile Centre (experiences from age 10+ www.libertyscentre.com) and Marwell. Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park (www.farmerpalmers.co.uk) allows handling of animals at no extra cost and they are very good at thinking about the little details – including no electric hand dryers in the toilets!
Marwell go in to a lot of depth with their services for visitors with additional needs. Help with mobility and sensory issue can be found on their website. Their lego attraction this summer includes a fantastic hands on lego tent which many children will love! www.marwell.org.uk/zoo/plan/guests-with-access-needs
Monkey World clearly put a lot of thought in to their services. Motorised scooters for hire (free, bookable but require a small deposit), children’s wheelchair swings and help for those with visual and hearing impairments. www.monkeyworld.org
Avon Tyrrell Activity Centre in Bransgore are truly committed to helping everyone. As well as Inclusion Weekends their hoists and adapted equipment mean that you can zip wire across the lake, climb their climbing wall, take part in tree climbing, shoot an arrow in Archery or canoe/kayak across the water. www.avontyrrell.org.uk
We’ve found Adventure Wonderland to be a great park when visiting with sensory issues. Again everyone has different triggers but generally queues aren’t too long, there isn’t too much piped music and there is lots of space for down time either in the park, kitchen garden or watching the planes from the viewpoint by the airport. www.adventurewonderland.co.uk
Moors Valley Country Park have won awards for their work in inclusivity and you’ll be able to see from their website www.moors-valley.co.uk/visitor-information/access-for-all why. Our personal favourites are the Accessibility Maps and the Visual Autism Guide.
Like animals, water can be a lot of fun and very calming. Local walks such as Linford Bottom, Puttles Bridg and Ober Water being popular.
If you’re looking for something peaceful Secluded Swim offers a little bit of heaven in Ferndown. The pool is new, beautiful, clean, built for private hire and very importantly beautifully warm! If it’s your first time there you can hire the pool exclusively for 1 hour for £25 for up to 4 people. It really is bliss! www.secludedswim.co.uk
Splashdown sincerely like to welcome everyone. Some people may not find Splashdown suitable for mobility issues, there are stairs and no lift but they have cleverly put a 360 degree tour on their website and then you can make the decision. If you have any questions a manager is always happy to speak to you beforehand to help. If you’re able to make weekday sessions outside of the school holidays these will obviously be quieter. www.splashdownwaterparks.co.uk
Things to remember;
- Many attractions offer free entry for a carer. Not all attractions advertise this so if it isn’t displayed make sure you still ask but you may need to have proof with you such as your PIP letter.
- The Dorset Max Card entitles the card holder (plus one other person eg a carer, P.A. or friend) to free or discounted access or other benefits at a range of around 100 leisure activities, venues and organisations across Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole and beyond www.xchangeonline.co.uk for more details.