*This post is for information purposes only and based on personal experience. As I researched my local area and found out that Bletchley Park were hosting an autism friendly grotto, I volunteered to write this post about our visit. I received no payment or any other compensation for this post.
Bletchley Park located in Milton Keynes was once the top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers. A remarkable place, which is right on my doorstep!
With the joyous occasion of Christmas soon approaching, I was delighted to discover that Bletchley Park were running a special ticketed event: A Vintage 1940s Autism Friendly Christmas Grotto. Perfect! Saturday 1st December here we come! My son’s ticket only cost £7.00, (This was the 2018 price) including free entry to the park accompanied by a paying adult.
My son has a lot of sensory issues so Christmas can be a challenging time for him.
Autism Friendly Grotto
The autism-friendly grotto has adjusted lighting and the choice to have the music turned off if we preferred. We also had the chance to discuss my son’s triggers before arrival. I really appreciated the information and attention to detail before setting foot in the park. Bletchley Park’s website also has a section on accessibility.
With the wondrous anticipation of the Christmas event, I received an email from Bletchley Park providing me with:
- A social story
- Sensory map
- Christmas grotto passport.
I was very impressed!
Social Story and Sensory Map
My son and I went through the social story:
He ticked off how we would travel to the park and could see that the grotto would be situated in the library located inside the mansion.
The sensory maps helped identify the sensory friendly places. It was great knowing where the busy and quiet areas would be:
Saturday 1st December
We had arrived at Bletchley Park, and as we walked through the doors, I noticed that there was a separate queue for the Christmas Grotto (ensuring ease of entry). I was kindly informed that each person would have a 15-minute time slot for the grotto, allowing flexibility for that child/young person.
I took note of the visual displays for directions, which we found very helpful:
We made our way past the lake and towards the mansion:
What a Humdinger of a view!
I showed my son the three rooms used for the grotto:
- A quiet place
- Arts and Crafts room
- The Grotto
He enjoyed spotting the decorations around the mansion and ticking them off his list.
We entered the arts and crafts room, where my son joined in and made a festive creation:
What originally was meant to be a snowman was adapted into a Little Big Planet monster……of course!
It was my son’s turn to enter the grotto…
You could feel the warmth as you entered the room. Absolutely breathtaking! It was a magical moment. Even I felt like a child again full of excitement. It was everything you expected a Christmas grotto to be, infused with a 1940’s twist.
Santa asked my son what he would like for Christmas and afterward handed him a present and a jar of sweets. My son smiled his way out of the grotto.
Cyber Security Exhibition
We then had a look around the mansion and at the Cyber Security Exhibition, which had lots of interactive elements.
We finished off our trip at the shop, where we admired the Christmas tree but also purchased a WW1 History Ruler for my son.
Our visit to Bletchley Park was a wondrous occasion filled with festive cheer. What a great way to start off the holidays!
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- An annual season pass to the museum lasts for a whole year so you can come back to take part in many of the free events/activities/exhibitions that run on site throughout the year.
- 50% off tickets for residents living within a 10-mile radius of the park.