As we now arrive in October, the weather has taken a down turn and we start to get more wet and windy days. Little Mr, like many kids, loves being out doors. He loves to play in the park, he loves to play in the garden and he loves to just get our for walks.
With the wind and rain hitting us hard - doing these things becomes more difficult. Instead of being able to play out every day, it becomes once every 3 days, 5 day, 1 day on the weekend and so on.
So; what can you do to help ease the stress and frustration that accompanies this lack of getting out? Well, we are still trying to figure that out. We still try and get out as much as possible when possible - but here are the 3 things we do on days that it's just too horrible outside to get out for a walk.
I've said above that little Mr just loves to get out. He loves nothing more that a good walk around a country park, playing on park swings and climbing and just being out in the fresh air.
However, on days where it is just too wet and windy - we still get out but in the car. We find an hour or so drive around areas where trees and green are help.
Now, we're lucky enough to live close enough to the New Forrest to get that green - but if you don't I'm sure you may know streets that are lined with trees?
To be honest, he enjoys a drive even if it's round housing estates as he just enjoys getting out of the house. This alternative means he can see and be out while not actually out walking in the wet and nasty weather.
So, as well as walking around outdoors - little Mr loves doing certain activities. He loves to play with leaves, pebbles and so on.
There are certain activities we can simulate in doors. We can make pretend leaves out of thin paper. We can use beans as pebbles. We buy some water beads for him to play with in a bowl.
We look at all the activities he may do other than walking and just think of what we can do as an alternative.
This may find simple or difficult, but we look for places we can visit for a walk. This could be something like a museum for example or just a shopping mall.
Little Mr had never really liked soft play indoor areas. Your child may love them so that is a great alternative. For us we have to get a little more creative.
Little Mr does not really enjoy shopping. However, walking round a large shopping mall is something he does enjoy. Just the art of walking around a big space where there are lots of things, and people, to look at.
He also enjoys trying to spot and drag us to the nearest coffee shop he recognises.
Visiting a shopping mall may not be your first choice, well when you not looking to spend money. However, the big open space maybe just enough to fill the need to be outdoors for a walk.
Now, the 3 activities above are not all that we do when stuck indoors on a wet day. The day contains far more activities that these, including play time, music time and much more.
However, the 3 above mentioned activities are our attempts at alternatives to getting out for playtime at the local park and walking around the local country park.
You may find other, better, alternatives that work for you. What it really comes down to is taking a moment, looking at what your children enjoy doing, and then thinking of how you can replicate this indoors.
That is what we did. We know what little Mr, and not so little Miss, enjoy doing outdoors. We know what they enjoy and tolerate indoors. So we have come up with an alternative set of things to do in he wet, colder months.
One thing from the above 3 we would do daily is the drive. That said, the other things we are really grateful of is school. Little Mr loves school and it gives him a place he can do lots of other activities 5 days of the week.
So, your task now is to take out a pen and paper and write down just what activities your children enjoy and then think of the alternative you are going to do.
Note: Quick note before I begin. We decided to have a mobile free day, so I didn’t take any photos for this post, well apart from on at the end when they were in the splash zone. We wanted to concentrate on the day rather than taking lots of photos 🙂
Just in case you don’t know, Paultons Park is a theme park here on the South Coast of England. It’s claim to fame, so to speak, is that it has Peppa Pig land - part of the theme park has rides inspired by Peppa Pig,
It’s not just Peppa Pig rides though, that is just one part of the theme park. There are lots of other big rides as well as other themed areas - one based around dinosaurs for example. You also get the regular rides like the log flume and roller coasters.
Hopefully, that gives you the setting 🙂 It’s just a regular theme park with a themed section or two. The great thing is that it’s accessible to both toddlers as well as older kiddies.
What we loved is that Paultons Park does a free queue jump facility for disabilities. Basically, you get to jump the queue once on each ride, which is especially useful if you have a child, like us, that has issues with waiting and also being in crowded places.
It’s easy to get - you simply take you diagnosis letter with you and go to see the nurse. They jot down your details, so that you don’t have to take your diagnosis letter again in the future, then give you the queue jump sheet which gets stamped at each ride.
Then, when you're at the rides, there are certain points you go to and wait and they come and take you on the ride. This was certainly useful and great as free.
The great thing about when we went was that it was an inset day for our kids. So it meant we could go on a day where most kids were in school which meant the park was a lot quieter. This meant less waiting. This also meant we only needed to use our queue jump facility on a couple of rides (most busy were the 2 Peppa Pig rides we did).
Last time we went to Paultons Park was a few years ago when little Mr was just under 900mm (their sizes), he could go on about half the rides then but not the best ones.
This time he’s over 110mm so he was allowed on around 95% (if not more) of the rides which meant we could get on more of the bigger fun-filled rides.
This was perfect as both our kiddies love the quick fast rides and believe me we could tell by how they were dragging us on. I think the favourite one of the day would be a coin toss between the log flume and a ride called the raptor - one of the newer rides. We went on both around 4 times. The great thing this time around is that little Mr was above the 1.1m height. That said, for any child under 1m, it's Free (taken from their website).
So, it was a blazingly hot day. The bad point is that we needed to buy drinks there. The good point is that if you take a water bottle, or juice bottle, to most (if not all) of the shops, cafes, etc. then they will fill up your bottle with tap water for free. This was a god send (so to speak) as we could drink lots of water. It's not too cold, at least wasn't on the day, just to warn you.
When we were close to going home we went to the splash zone. This is a smaller section where they have lots of water sprinklers going. Little Mr loves water play and as it was hot it was a great place to cool down. Don't forget to take trunks or a change of clothes though - we did plan ahead for this. It's also the only place I got an image as our locker we chose was right near this point. It really did finish off a great day.
The biggest thing is, that, if you have a child with a disability - take your diagnosis letter along and get the free queue jump. It worked really well on the 3-4 rides we needed it for. As it was quiet we didn't need too much. I can imagine if we had gone on a day in the school holidays it would have been packed - so would have used more.
It certainly was a great day out, though each and every time we have been there we have had fun. This time round though, little Mr was tall enough for him to enjoy all the rides too.
This is a one take Sunday post today - Something I may do again, but only usually when something that I either know or not need to research jumps into my fingers as I type 🙂
This week the fair arrived at the recreation ground near us. They put an announcement on their Facebook page that says its the first time in 20 years since they have been - through around 3-4 years ago there was another fair that visited there...
As you can imagine - all the kids are excited...
Every child is different, a bit of a sentence to start when the title included adventurer. It’s true though, not all children like fast or scared rides. This includes children on the spectrum and those that aren’t.
Little Mr is one of those children that seems to be adventurous - well, that said, so is not so little Miss. I think it comes from my wife’s side.
We thought we would pop down the fair, though at £1 each a ride we limited our spending. We wanted to take not so little Miss as she loves the bigger rides, but we also wanted to try little Mr on some of the faster and more adventurous rides that where there - the sort of rides that seem to have bigger height limits at other places.
We started slow but then went up to the faster rides quite quick...
The first fast ride we went on, in the first minute he started to grumble - maybe as it was slow... Suddenly the ride picked up in speed and he grown turned into laughter.
We were on one of those rides that throw's you around at speed, think this was called Sizzler or something like that. Zooming around, that being turned and zooming across again. I think it was just the sheer speed and pull that he enjoyed.
He enjoyed so much that he pulled me back again later...
However, when done the next ride had to be the waltzers. Again, not something he had been on - but when we were zooming round he was laughing his head off. I have to say my stomach started to take a beating at this point.
Once the waltzer had finished, I needed to walk around for 5 minutes just to settle my stomach. Then he was pulling me back to the sizzler again - moaning until we went on it. Had to be done.
Once finished, so was my stomach. The one problem with these rides is the stimulation he gets. Lots of sensory.
As he had so much sensory he started to have a little meltdown. It was certainly time to go at that point.
This post has a reason, a purpose. It’s to say that you never know what you kiddie will love until you try it. Just because the maybe on the spectrum doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy.
However, you have to remember the sensory stimulation and watch out for when they have peaked and they start to have a sensory meltdown. Overall, we had fun at the fair and really happy we tried him.
We will be going again before they leave.
As you may be aware, if you've read a number of my posts, I like to talk about the positive sides of life with a young child with autism. I like to feel I see the positive in most situations and so don't necessarily talk about the 2 hours of bedtime routine or the being work up in the middle of the night or early mornings every day 🙂
I like to talk about the positive. However, for this post, I wanted to talk about some of the difficulties we face when doing something simple such as going to the beach.
One of the main reasons we moved to the coast was to offer the kids that chance to grow up near the sea. At the time we moved little Mr had not been diagnosed with ASD, so we were just going about our daily lives without having to think that through.
One of the positives about where we moved, we seemed to go through the process of diagnosis quickly - as compared to others we know back in the county we were living.
So, we moved here with the beach in mind. Thoughts of summer, winter and the other seasons down on the beach front. Picnics, beach play and all that. We did find that little Mr (and again this was before diagnosis) was a little hit and miss with the sand - one season he would like, another he wouldn't. He seemed to enjoy the walks though.
Some of these things did seem to fall into place though, after the diagnosis.
So, as I said, we moved here because of the sea and the beach. Not so little Miss loves going to the beach and will play with sand, paddle in the sea and so on. Little Mr though, well, he is a little bit of a handful.
He does like playing in the sand, sometimes at school a little too much. What you can't do though is sit down in one place. You can't place a towel and stay, he sits for a minute, then drags you up and wanders.
You also have to have him on a backpack or be holding his hand. He's a runner, so you have to supervise constantly. As part of his school outings, they go to the beach regular and this is also something they have mentioned.
A busy beach and he could be gone into the crowd. He also runs towards the sea and with no danger awareness, well, who would know.
So, you can't just sit and hope he would, you can't sit at all. Not the best situation for a family outing.
However, little Mr loves going to the beach and paddling in the sea. He gets so much enjoyment out of playing in the sand, padding in the sea. He loves to walk up to just over waist height and jump around. He would go out further - but as no backpack and only holding hands - its the danger awareness part we have to understand for him.
See, for all the negative things, the positive joy they get is worth the extra effort and hassle for us. We just have to make sure we don't rest. As adults I think I've had my fulfilment of beach play, I've never been one for sitting and resting on the beach, and so, up and active is no at issue. It's not so negative.
However, some of you may have the same situation that we have and would prefer to sit and enjoy. For not so little Miss, my wife will take her to the beach one on one from time to time - just so she can have that time to rest and play and enjoy.
Me, I just go out for a wander with little Mr as we both enjoy the walking. The only real difficulties at the beach is to make sure the kids are safe and secure. It takes that little bit more effort with little Mr, maybe most children with difficulties such as ASD. However, the joy they still get is worth it.
While searching around for ideas for posts, to help provide an insight into our lives, but also provide help and useful info for everyone that visits; I found a search for places to go with an autistic child.
You may have noticed I re-worked that title to places to go with a child with autism, mainly because of the child before diagnosis effort I like to make. Also, as I live in Dorset, I thought I would talk about the places we enjoy going - although there are many places outside of Dorset that we go too.
Also, this list is in no particular order. If anything I think just the - getting outdoors part is the most important thing, not the actual place itself.
Now, this is probably quite an obvious one and I am betting that many of you reading this already take your children to the park.
We don’t particularly have a favourite park per say. There are parks we like because it’s more than just swings and slides. They have areas to walk and ramble around.
There is, also, 1 park in Ferndown we like as it has some special needs facilities too.
Why little Mr loves the park is the sensory input he gets. He loves swinging on the swings, going up and down on the seesaw and he loves things that spin him around. Although he will go on a slide, he doesn’t really head for them. He likes things that give him a big sensory input.
As I say, this may be an obvious one, but it can also be a difficult one for some children with autism just because, if busy, it can be a bit overwhelming.
So, every child is different and some children may find the sensory input of theme parks and fairs too much. Little Mr loves the sensory input he gets from the rides, he loves lots of motions and faster the better. What we do find, though, is that waiting is the biggest issue - so with the more popular theme parks, we tend to go at slightly quieter times.
One of the places we like to visit is Paultons Park. Though to be honest this is not in Dorset, I believe it actually comes under Hampshire - though close enough to Dorset to add to our list. Looking at their website, one thing I think is good (at least at the time of writing this post) is that, for a season pass - for a Wheelchair dependent the cost is FREE. They also make the statement on their website that
A vast majority of the rides and attractions at Paultons, including Peppa Pig World, are designed to be fully accessible to disabled guests
Although, in that statement on their website they also say, that, because of that they do not offer a discounted disabled rate. What we’ve found when we have been there is that, the site itself does have wide paths, there are nice grounds to walk around - little Mr is quite able so can go on most of the rides, though like many theme parks - someone who may be wheelchair dependant may find few (if any) rides they can go on.
The other small theme park we goto a lot (you can see it on our site) is Adventure Wonderland in Bournemouth. The thing about Adventure Wonderland is that it’s quite a small place, there are enough rides to keep him (and not so little Miss) entertained and still have a good time. As it is smaller, it doesn’t get so overcrowded - though it can look busy as smaller in size. There is also an indoor play frame, though little Mr doesn’t like this - but its great for kids that do.
We love going there, we’ve bought summer passes for the past 3-4 years. That said, not so little Miss is getting a little old for the rides there now, there are only a couple of rides that are more grown up as many of for younger kids. It’s a great place to take younger kids though. Access is ok, though the rides again are not really suitable for wheelchair dependent people.
The plus point is that the summer passes are of a reasonable price and they have great deals on and off meaning we get all 4 of us summer passes for under £100 - though prices change so check the website for any deals they have
I never really think of this as a fun park, it’s more like a fair in my eyes. This little gem of a place, though, is well worth a visit if in Weymouth. Fantasy Island has some great rides that suite both our kids. If you go there - check out the unlimited rides for 3 hours tickets if they still do them - and you plan to be there for a little time.
It’s definitely worth a visit if, in Weymouth, we go there a few times a year as not too far up the road.
We can all get something from looking at our past. We can learn from mistakes, but better still, we can learn from our successes. Museums are a perfect place to go to learn from our successes. They also allow us to experience things we would not normally.
Here are a few places we find little Mr likes to walk around.
When we first started to go here, it was with a plan in mind. We wanted to get little Mr used to the inside of a passenger plane so that we could return to flying away for holidays.
In the beginning, he was hesitant of the place, but these days he absolutely loves going. We have also met a number of other parents who are there with there children who are on the spectrum. Planes seem to hold a fascination with many.
What can you find here? Other than the seating area from a passenger plane or two, there are some old fighter planes, fire engine, bus, helicopter - well more than one of each of the planes and helicopter really.
It gives the kids (and adults) plenty to look around and explore. We paid for a year pass, which to be honest was not that expensive. With this, we tend to go once a fortnight or so and he, they, love it. I think anywhere there is complex and interesting items will be enjoyed.
We’ve only been in this museum a couple of times, but I wanted to list it here as this is the kind of place we may all think of when talking about museums.
There are some very interesting items in the museum, mostly all about local history. From little Mr’s point of view, the most interesting part is the cafe at the top. For a free place to go through, it’s a nice 30-60 minutes to browse.
Now, I’m including this here purely as it’s a place, that, someday we will try visiting. That being said, we’ve not been there yet - only driven past it.
If you’re in Dorset on holiday though - it could be a place for you to try.
What can I say, there are soooo many places to go walking in Dorset. You have the forest. You have the beaches and seafront. You have the towns and parks. Let me list just a couple of places we like to go for walks, some of these have free parking and a couple you have to pay.
There's nothing quite like a late afternoon stroll along the beach. Just when the air is starting to cool. To be honest, though, we also go to this beach some days. It can get busy from time to time, but parking is a little easier than going to, say, the beach at Bournemouth - although you have to pay for parking at all of the beaches around her.
As I was saying, we love to walk along the beach. Little Mr loves to, at times, sit and play on the beach. You can spend quite some time enjoying the view, kids playing and really having a great time for not so much money, less than a cup of coffee at a coffee shop for the parking.
You may have seen previous posts of mine, that I talk about Upton Country Park a few times. This is somewhere we often go for a walk. This country park stretches out around the park of Poole Harbour, has a manor house that you can go in at scheduled times, has a nice coffee shop, but best of all has some great walks with nature around.
Now, they have recently started to charge for parking, which is a shame because it was a fantastic free place to visit before. However, it's only a small cost - so if you looking to get out for a few hours, its a great place for that. Take a picnic. Sit on the grass and enjoy the trees. Little Mr loves walking around, well we all do.
You probably knew this one was coming 🙂 Just down the road from Bournemouth is The New Forest, a place full of wonderful walks, little villages and places to explore and find. We often take a drive, find some free car park and get out for a walk and explore. There are so many places we have not yet visited that it's just exciting. The kids love visiting. Little Mr is fascinated with the outdoors and so it's a perfect place to spend a few hours.
Some of the stopping points have flat grass areas which are perfect for picnics. Some have trees, streams, hills and animals all around. You can see so much every visit. This is our number 1 favourite walking place if I am honest, purely because it's different every time. It just takes a little more effort to get there.
I'm not sure if you noticed the common factor in all the places I have listed above? It's something I have always tried to highlight in my posts, in what we do every day. Ok, just in case it's not jumped out like a jack-in-the-box, the common factor is 'The places I talk about are not just for kids with Autism'. What I am trying to get at is, most places you can go with a child that is not on the spectrum IS the places you can go with a child that is on the autism spectrum.
Ok, so some children may have sensory issues with some of the places, they may not like the sound, colours, etc. Children not on the spectrum may have issues similar too. You know your child and you know what they like and what they don't like. You know the places you could take them.
I've just highlighted, ok in quite a long way - kind of like I was stretching a piece of gum, highlighted places we like to visit. There are many more. I could list Portland Bill, I could list the coffee shops, I could list the harbour. The thing I want you to take away is when someone asks what places to go with a child with autism you tell them - anywhere you like that you and your child feel comfortable. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't be put off or afraid of what others may think or feel. Go out, enjoy life and spend some fun quality time together.
So, you may have guessed (from previous posts) that we love to get out when we can. So, today after lunch was done, we decided to go out and take a walk around a nice muddy New Forest. Well, part of it anyhow as it is just SOO big.
I captured a few images of our muddy adventure and posted the most respectable ones here, for you to share the muddy adventure too.
We have a little tradition we started after we moved down to the South Coast.
It goes like this, Christmas day we have the presents when they wake up. We have a nice breakfast, we have our Christmas day lunch (lunch time) and this is followed by a lovely walk to work off our lunch.
See, where we used to live, the only place to really go for a 'getaway' walk was the Bracknell Forrest. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic place - we have walked around and had fun there many times. The problem is if its the only real place to go, where you don't have to drive for miles, then you can find it repetitive.
When we moved here, we found more options. For example, there are a number of different beach locations to jump down to and go for a walk (one of my favorites). There is a massive country park and, in the other direction, you have multiple small villages and walks in The New Forrest.
So, this year, as the weather was a little breezy, we decided to go out to the New Forrest for a walk. There are so many different places to visit there, that we have not seen. You can find somewhere different every time.
In fact, we did find a different place this time around. I took a road I normally don't drive down and found a lovely place to park which had a fantastic walking path that went on for miles.
We probably did about a mile of it, then turned around as it was getting later in the afternoon and a little darker.
The thing is, the kids love it. Little Mr. is in his element when we go and do something like this -and not so little Miss loves the climbing, exploring and all that kind of thing too. So, cost of petrol only, we get out, get fresh air, take in some scenery, and aren't just sitting around, watching the same Christmas Day TV.
I wanted to share a little of the experience with you all - so I have a few images, to show and to keep as memories of this Christmas day.
Recorded in images for all to see. We do love our walks.
I think, as a family, we love our new tradition of a Christmas Day walk. It gives us time to get out into he fresh air, time to walk off all those Christmas treats. We love getting out so much that we're doing it all again on New Years day. The thing is, I've bought some lovely wellies for that walk so I too can go through those puddles.
So, here's to a merry New Years day walk, yet to come. I do hope its less windy 🙂