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Activities and days out for disabled children

If you have a disabled child, you might want to search for accessible days out and activities. It's worth looking for discounts too.

Days out for disabled adults

Finding accessible days out

When planning a day out, you might be able to find the access information on the venue’s website. Local organisations and charities also might advertise accessible events in your area.

You can ring the venue or check access reviews online. You can find some accessibility reviews on:

Accessible days out guides

Days out will depend on where you live. Some examples can include:

  • museums
  • art galleries
  • inclusive play parks
  • libraries
  • leisure centres
  • farms

If you are looking for a day out, there are guides online that have reviewed accessible places.

Guide to Accessible Days out in Britain (Motability)

10 accessible days out across the UK for disabled people (Disability Horizons)

The National Trust also has access information and activity guides that all the family can do:

Autism-friendly days out

If your child has a condition that means that they find busy places stressful, looking for things that are autism-friendly can be helpful.

Autism-friendly changes could include:

  • low lighting
  • no music
  • fewer visitors
  • shorter queues

When advertised by the venue, they might call these adjustments:

  • a relaxed session
  • quiet hour
  • autism-friendly

Cinema and theatres

At many cinemas, you can book an autism-friendly screening. The adjustments can include:

  • a relaxed environment with low lighting
  • the sound is turned down
  • no trailers
  • being able to move about
  • bring your own food and drink

Autism friendly cinema screenings (Dimensions)

Theatres also have relaxed performances. Check your local theatre website for details.

Accessible theatre (Theatre Crafts)

How to book access theatre tickets (Life of Pippa)

Other adjustments at the cinema and theatre can include:

  • subtitles
  • audio description
  • free companion ticket
  • spaces for wheelchair users
  • booster seats

Preparing for a day out

When going on a day out, you want to be as prepared as possible. You know your child’s needs and what works for them.

There are things you can do before going on a day out that might help.

Checking it’s accessible

If you are visiting a new place, check the accessibility with the venue.

Checking the accessibility of a venue or event

If you are travelling on public transport, it can be helpful to book travel assistance. You might do this if you:

  • are unsure where you are going
  • need help carrying bags and equipment
  • need help getting on and off
  • will need a ramp

Transport for disabled people

Social stories

Some children can find social environments overwhelming. Social stories can help your child know what to expect.

Social stories and comic strip conversations (National Autistic Society)

You can find social stories online or create your own. This means you can personalise it to your day out or activity.

Creating personal social stories (video workshop)

Finding a toilet

If your child needs to use an accessible toilet, a Radar Key can allow you to open accessible public toilets.

Radar Key (Disability Rights)

A Changing Places toilet is similar to an accessible toilet, but is bigger and has other equipment. It will have:

  • a fully accessible toilet
  • a height-adjustable changing bench
  • a hoisting system
  • a peninsular toilet
  • enough space for the disabled person and 2 carers

Find a Changing Places Toilet (Changing Places)

Mobiloo is a portable Changing Places toilet which can be hired for events. They list the events that they are attending.

Mobiloo

You can use websites or apps to find your nearest toilet.

accessaloo (app on iOS and Android)

Find a toilet (Toilet Maps)

Flush toilet finder (app on iOS and Android)

After school activities

Activities outside school can be a great way to help your child have fun and find something they enjoy. It can also develop their confidence, social skills, interests and physical abilities.

Before choosing an activity

Before choosing what activity to do, think about what your child would enjoy, such as:

  • sports
  • arts and crafts
  • music and dancing
  • cooking
  • gaming
  • making friends

Sport and exercise for disabled children and young people 

Local Offer

Your council’s Local Offer should list information, advice and services available for disabled children, including: courses inclusive clubs play schemes special activities outside school hours

Contact your local authority (GOV.UK)

Part of the Local Offer might include parent support groups. This can allow you to ask other families in your area where they go on days out.

Support groups for parents

If you live in Wales, your local authority will have similar information to support you.

Contact your local authority (gov,wales)

Find the right activity

Talk to the activity provider about:

  • your child's likes and dislikes
  • what your child does and does not need support with
  • your child’s medication
  • what to do if your child becomes distressed
  • your contact information and what to do in an emergency

You might want to create a play passport for your child. This can include things they enjoy and their access needs.

It can also help to ask:

  • if there is support available for things like eating and using the toilet
  • if you or a carer need to stay to support with certain tasks or activities

This sort of information should help the activity provider tell you whether they can support your child and make reasonable adjustments for them.

Ask for a free taster session to see if the activity is right for your child. Make sure your child enjoys the experience before signing up. If they want to stop at any time, it's OK to try other activities until you find the ones they enjoy.

Activities to do at home

If you have a garden or nearby open space, playing outside can be a sensory experience for your child.

50 activities to do in your back garden (National Trust)

You might find charities or organisations that have activities to do at home. This could be included in your Local Offer. If you are looking for educational resources that your child enjoys, there are apps and games online.

Online resources and activities

If your child enjoys music, Accessible Inclusive Music (AIM) runs an online choir for disabled and non-disabled children. They also have sessions during school holidays.

Accessible Inclusive Music (Twitter)

Discounts for disabled children

Ask the venue or activity if they do discounts or concessions. These can include free or discounted tickets for a carer.

Disability discounts for days out and travel

Tickets for families with disabled children If you have a disabled child, you could receive financial support to go on family days out. Organisations include:

CEA cinema card

You can apply for a CEA card if your child is over 8, receives disability benefits or has a visual or hearing impairment. The CEA card allows you to get a free carer’s ticket at most cinemas.

About the CEA card (CEA)

Max Card

A Max Card is a discount card that enables the families of disabled children to save money on attractions and days out.

My Max Card (Max Card)

Discounted public transport

If your child receives disability benefits or has a visual or hearing impairment, they could get a Disabled Persons Railcard. This will give you a third off most train fares for your child and 1 other person.

Disabled Persons Railcard

If your child is over 5, they could get a disabled person’s bus pass. The eligibility and savings will depend on your local council.

Apply for a disabled person's bus pass (GOV.UK)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 01/10/2021

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