*This post is based on personal experience from our visit, and is for information purposes. I received no payment or any other compensation for this post.
On Sunday 10th February, we visited the Natural History Museum, located in London for the Dawnosaurs event. This was a free event for parent/carers and children on the autism spectrum aged 5-15. Due to high demand, I applied online to reserve a place.
The Dawnosaurs event was supported by the: The Lord Leonard and Lady Estelle Wolfson Foundation.
I received an e-mail confirmation, which informed me that I was successful in booking our spaces for the event. The e-mail also provided me with a link to an online questionnaire, asking about special facility requirements, likes and dislikes and information to ensure that my son’s needs will be met for the event.
In the lead up to the event, I received an e-mail that included pre-visit information. The attachment guide enclosed details for parents of how to get to the museum, where the nearest train station is, a link to check for train status updates and the opening times of the museum. It also recommended using the side entrance of the museum to enter this event.
It must be noted that a sensory room would be available on the day in the lower ground floor and a Mobiloo in the rear car park. The guide highlighted that the hand dryers would be switched off until 9:30am. I was emailed a visual guide, showing the areas around the museum.
We were also provided with information telling us that we would be able to meet Ranger Stu in the Flett Theatre to see some of the animals and that there would also be an activity area in the Hintze Hall.
I was very impressed that the Natural History Museum emailed sound clips to be played alongside the visual guide. They included the sound of a T Rex, an evacuation and hand dryer sounds. Little details like this really do make a big difference when planning a day out. It makes the day more predictable and a better experience for my son.
Travelling to London
A week before the event, I went back and forth in my mind of whether to drive to London or to use the train. In the end, my partner, me and my son used the train. My son was happy to, as long as he knew how many stops there were until we reached our destination. We incorporated a countdown for this.
Welcome to Dawnosaurs
The doors at the Natural History Museum opened at 8 for this event. On arrival, I noticed that the Natural History Museum had a short queue, where several staff members were available to checked us in. They had a list of names, but I printed off the e-mail confirmation just in case. The staff handed us an A3 programme, which had a map on the back. The Red, Blue and Green zones were opened for the Dawnosaurs event. A staff member handed us a blue badge, which helped them identify that we were part of the Dawnosaurs event.
Life in the Dark Exhibition
The blue badge allowed us free entry to the Life in the Dark exhibition. Looking at the visual guide, it pre-warns that the exhibition would contain flashing light and flickering shadows. My son thoroughly enjoyed seeing the nocturnal animals.
Dinosaur Hall and Whale Hall
We had a look around the Dinosaur Hall and the Whale Hall in the Blue Zone. My son wanted to find out what is the biggest Whale. He had the confidence to ask one of the helpers. The answer is the Blue Whale.
At 9:30 we headed over to the Flett Theatre to meet Ranger Stu. My son preferred to look at the animals from afar rather than up close and personal. He was amazed by the size of the snail and had the chance to see an armadillo for the first time.
Volcanoes and Earthquakes
We all enjoyed going up the earth escalator. My son loved looking at the protective suit that a volcanologist has to wear and studying the layers of the earth. He really appreciates learning in this way as he soaks up a lot of information.
The Natural History Museum has plenty of visual and interactive displays, including the earthquake simulator which we stood on.
General Opening Time
At 10am, the museum opened its doors to the general public. The museum was very busy. As more people entered the museum, my son’s body language began to change. He stood by my side and held onto my arm, whereas before he was confidently walking ahead of me as he looked around. It really made me appreciate that the Natural History Museum hosted an autism-friendly event.
An autism-friendly event is really important, allowing my son to enjoy the experience. We did not spend the whole day at the museum. I was aware that the trains would start to get busier, so we sat down and had some food and then headed back home. Overall it was a fun and very relaxed day.
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