*This post is based on personal experience and is for information purposes only.
Most of the places we visit relate to art or science, two of my son’s favourite subjects. (I also enjoy art). He also loves anything connected with water like aquariums or going to the seaside.
Focusing days out with my son’s interests is one way that helps me create flexibility into his routine, being able to visit new places and travel further afield. This helps me to create a more autism friendly day out. We also make sure that as a family outing, we include activities that me or my partner want to do too. (It’s all about balance)
I always look at the main website of the places we visit before attending. I pay attention to the website’s accessibility page and also type in the word autism into the search box. I look for information to see if they provide any visual/large print/audio guides. If I am still unsure but know that the place/event is something that we will enjoy, I either phone the place or send an email with any questions that I have.
I find the AccessAble website helpful too.
I prefer booking tickets online, where possible, to avoid the hassle of queuing on arrival.
We visit a lot of museums because they are a fun way of learning. Throughout my blog posts, you will probably hear me mentioning interactive and visual a lot. Well, this is how my son learns best, and it helps him retain more information. So, our days out can be educational as well as social. It is that whole philosophy of learning by doing. Where more museums are offering autism-friendly events, this makes it possible and accessible for people like my son to attend but more importantly, enjoy the experience.
General Days Out
Last weekend my son and I visited my partner, and my son was playing a computer game at his house. My partner then said. “let’s go outside for a walk around the lake, we need some fresh air and it is good exercise”. Well, my son’s response to that was: “you have an exercise bike; you can get some exercise on that”. “You want some fresh air then open up the window”. I should call my son the comeback king as some of his responses to not wanting to do something that has no relevance to him are amazing.
My son sometimes diverts the conversation to draw attention away from the fact that he may be anxious about doing something different or going to a new place. He also has days where he is just happy staying indoors. I have to be able to know the difference between when he is choosing not to do something and when he can’t do something because of anxiety or other restrictions.
I find the now and next approach helpful and is something I use a lot with my son. He always has to know what will happen after we are doing one thing, so I will show him what the next thing will be.
On days out, if a place becomes overcrowded, my son will never say to me it’s too busy, can we leave. He will never verbally tell me when a situation becomes overwhelming for him. I rely on being able to read his body language. I know when things are getting too much because my son starts to walk or lean into me. The way that I describe it is he becomes disorientated. He also flicks the top of his ears and rocks side to side when feeling anxious. I have to be in tune with my son’s non-verbal communication, including knowing when he is sensory seeking or sensory avoiding.
What helps you on days out?
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