30th November 2016 Me
You can bury your head in the sand all you like, but it’s officially time to accept the fact that Christmas is coming. Really soon! It can be difficult to find things that are fully accessible for the whole family, so My Family, Our Needs has got some festive ideas to help you get everyone into the Christmas spirit.
Christmassy days out
Winter Wonderland – Hyde Park
Featuring an open-air skating rink, the magical Ice Kingdom, circus shows and a German-style Christmas Market, Winter Wonderland is free to enter and runs from 18th November to 2nd January 2017. They offer a personal assistant (PA) scheme to provide disabled visitors who require assistance with a free ticket for a partner, accompanying friend or PA for all pre-bookable attractions.
Wheelchairs can be accommodated on all the bookable attractions and there is a wheelchair accessible pod in the Giant Wheel.
The Winter Wonderland website everything you need to know about purchasing your tickets and accessibility.
Cadbury World – Christmas celebration weekends
If you love chocolate, and who doesn’t love chocolate, think about a visit to Cadbury World. It has some fantastic things in place to make your visit as accessible as possible; though they do recommend phoning before your visit. This is because they want to make it the best experience possible for you.
Billed as a fun chocolate day trip to one of the UK’s most popular family attractions, Christmas celebration weekends include a Santa Show and Cinderella in pantomime. You can even enjoy a Christmas dinner at the Cadbury café. Depending on when you visit, celebrations may be taking place on weekdays or weekends, so take a look at the website to find out what’s on when you want to visit.
Tickets can sell out quickly, so if you miss the opportunity to visit one of the Christmas celebrations, you can still enjoy the wonder of The Cadbury Word Experience. The experience is a self-guided tour made up of a number of zones, including a 4D chocolate adventure, a Cadabra ride, the interactive Purple Planet and much more.
Cadbury World has large print scripts available for the tour as well as an infrared system for those with hearing aids. There are ramps throughout and some of the staff have taken courses in autism awareness and Makaton. Its website has full details of accessibility for planning your visit. There is also a Changing Places facility, which we know can be a deal-breaker for most families going out and about for the day.
Give Cadbury World a try for some chocolatey fun, we bet you can’t resist a trip to the shop before you leave. Go on, it is Christmas after all.
Kew Gardens – London
Kew Gardens is the world’s most famous botanic garden. Just 30 minutes from central London, it boasts landscapes, glasshouses, historic buildings and a vast range of rare and beautiful plants.
At this time of year, Kew Gardens runs a Kew at Christmas event, which even has a ‘carer goes free’ policy. Kew at Christmas runs from 23rd November to 2nd January 2017. You enter the winter trail between two giant Christmas trees and follow the path which takes you to the Tunnel of Lights, illuminated by over 60,000 lights, making patterns and pictures to a festive soundtrack. It’s a real sensory experience.
There’s even a chance for some karaoke at the Christmas jukebox, as well as some mulled wine and marshmallows. Feeling Christmassy yet?!
The Kew Gardens website lists all of its accessibility information and booking is highly recommended.
Presents under the tree
Looking for something a little out of the ordinary present-wise? I Can Experiences offer gift experiences designed for disabled people, ranging from Ferrari-driving to skydiving. Founded by Paul Nicol, who lost his sight at the age of 23, I Can Experiences aim to provide opportunities for disabled people to push their own limits and have fun at the same time. Experiences start from £20.
A Rubik’s cube can provide hours of fun (and challenge!) for children aged 8 years and over. We found this one on the Toys r Us website for £9.99 www.toysrus.co.uk/toys/browse/christmas/stocking-fillers/_/N-104344
Argos also have a 2 for £10 offer on stocking fillers at the moment and there are some fab bargains going, including these colouring pencils for just 9p http://www.argos.co.uk/product/2870465 or this Olaf notebook for just 49p http://www.argos.co.uk/product/2920944
Sensory toys and gifts
Flashing tambourine – £42
If its music they’re into, Rompa has a tambourine with flashing LED lights. This one features a chunky handle with finger grooves so it’s even easier to make some noise.
Twilight turtle – £24
Rompa also sells a cute, turtle nightlight with different coloured soothing lights; green, amber or blue. Projecting a night sky onto the wall or ceiling, this turtle offers a calming environment at bedtime.
If you’re not too sure which presents your child may like or interact with best, you could try out your local toy library first. You can find out about your local one from your council website or just googling your area, followed by ‘toy libraries.’ Some learning and development centres also host toy libraries for children with additional needs, often provided by an outside charity, so if your child is already registered somewhere for speech and language therapy or physiotherapy, check what other services they offer too.
What do you have planned as a family to get you into the Christmas spirit? Whatever you’re doing, it doesn’t have to be expensive and you can even plan some Christmassy activities indoors to get into the spirit of things!