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Help me plan a trip to Natural History Museum with ds (5)

(17 Posts)
LargeLatte Tue 13-Nov-12 11:37:18

It's only a couple of hours away from us. We promised we'd do it this year and I still haven't plucked up the courage. DS2 has dyspraxia, some hearing loss and SPD.

Things I am worried about:
* ds hates loud people, especially children crying, screaming or shouting - he will become distressed or agressive towards them (so I will pack ear defenders).

* ds is quickly overwhelmed by lots of people and may run and hide - how do I not lose him on underground? I suppose I should just go for a taxi? Just utterly terrified of losing him.

* ds can get very tired from lots of walking - are there plenty of places to stop for a rest?

When is likely to be the best / quietest time to go - school holidays? Weekend? Midweek? May possibly be able to get the day off school for this one (maybe).

Please please tell me this will be OK. DH and I were lucky enough to go to Paralympics and our hearts ached at the sight of kids the same age as ours enjoying the trip out, when we knew ds would have absolutely hated almost every moment. But he really wants to do this trip so I know we need to give it a go.

Hand holding required.

alison222 Tue 13-Nov-12 12:33:34

The natural history museum is heaving at school holidays and sometimes at weekends too. Term time mid week is usually the quietest.

Aim to get there as it opens as this is the quietest time too.

Which bits are you most interested in seeing?

Personally I loved the dinosaur exhibition, the DC's love the body parts room which is SO full of interactive things.

I also love the model of the blue whale as I can't believe that anything alive can be so huge.

There is also a lot of geological stuff and an "earthquake" room.

I know in holidays they do talks so we went to one called "killer insects" it was free, and we just happened to be walking nearby and got invited in by a member of staff.

You can also pay to go "behind the scenes" but you have to pay and book this. DH took the DCs on one of these to see the giant squid all laid out.

There are benches around - but not as many as I would like to stop and rest - so try to find the theatre and sit down for a bit.

Food is not great for choice and is expensive so we usually take a packed lunch.

alison222 Tue 13-Nov-12 12:38:01

Also have you looked at the website, there are floorplans here , but click through and there is an acess guide and a parent survival guide and lots of other information - but tucked away so you need to plough through it to find things out.

LargeLatte Tue 13-Nov-12 13:39:25

Thanks Alison - I think I will plan out what we are going to see before we get there and just stick to a small number of things as he won't like to be rushed. I was hoping that as it is nearing Christmas people would be off doing more Christmassy things at the weekend, but just noticed they have an ice rink so it'll still be busy.

troutsprout Tue 13-Nov-12 14:11:26

Is there a number you can ring ? Honestly.. Sometimes it's so worth it! Sometimes I have happened upon a person who has almost made it his life's mission to make our visit successful.
(Big up to the Thackray museum in Leeds)
It's worth a try

ProcrastinatingPanda Tue 13-Nov-12 14:14:31

Noise reducing headphones and PECS cards could make the trip a lot easier, if you're able to use them? Or even just normal headphones plugged into an iPod/mp3 player with his favourite music on it.

mrslaughan Tue 13-Nov-12 14:30:17

Definately try and avoid school holidays - it is so busy, dinosaur part fab, but you may want to avoid the huge robotic t-Rex at the end if the Dino exhibit - DS, who is also dyspraxic and SPD almost had a heart attack the first time he saw it, it took him a year to go back it gave him such a fright. Brave boy stood and watched it a couple of weeks ago - so proud of him!

wibbleweed Tue 13-Nov-12 14:32:38

I'd definitely avoid weekends and school holidays if at all possible. However, you can usually avoid the heaving crowds even during those periods if you turn up as soon as it opens. Doesn't tend to get massively busy until around midday...

Ear defenders are a good idea - I use them a lot with DS2 (AS - and also gets aggressive towards loud/screaming little ones).

Also, if it's at all possible, avoid the dinosaurs as that's by far the busiest bit. It's also quite dark, which freaks DS2 a bit. But you can always find quieter sections of the NHM which are equally interesting (mind you, I'm a natural historian by background!). I'd definitely recommend going up the massive escalator into the earth's core - and checking out the geology/rocks/earthquake section. Best way to reach that bit is through the 'side' entrance (near the entrance to the science museum)

And yes, give them a ring in advance and explain your situation - hopefully they'll be able to give you some good advice.

Enjoy your trip!

WW x

bialystockandbloom Tue 13-Nov-12 15:39:13

Agree about avoiding the dinosaur bit at weekends/holidays, it's packed and takes ages to get into the main room - and you have to queue in a dark room which might not be great for sensory problems.

The first time we went ds actually enjoyed the 'mammal' room more than anything - the one with the blue whale in. I think because around the edge (mezzanine floor) there are interactive exhibits where he got to press buttons, it was almost like playing a computer game wink It was less noisy and mental than the other areas.

If you go on a Sunday and can drive, there is free parking in some of the roads a little walk away (there's a square near the tube station, can't remember what it's called but if you drive around you'll find places). I woulnd't recommend tube at any time though if he gets tired as there's a very long walk from the tube station (South Ken) to the museum.

bialystockandbloom Tue 13-Nov-12 15:40:18

Oh and also there are other entrances other than the main one, so if there's a queue to get in, go to the side buildings (we were directed once by a nice security guard so ask around).

mymatemax Tue 13-Nov-12 16:15:09

do you have a blue badge? If so they have some disabled spaces, give them a ring. Use the side entrance rather than the main entrance.
Even in the holidays once you are in it is large enough to find a quiet corner. Some of the older exhibition halls are less popular so are calmer & quieter.
South Kensington tube can be very busy you may find it easir to us another stop & just walk.
If he wants to have a run around Hyde Park is just around the corner

zzzzz Tue 13-Nov-12 18:04:15

Take a photo of him on your phone so if you were to get separated you can remember what he's wearing. A special hat helps you to keep track of him and reduces glare. Bells looped through belt loops or button holes let you hea where he is.

Definitely caked lunch and lots of snacks. We have cake ad hot drinks but not roper food at museums.

Get all the plans out and get there early if you can. I would go on a weekday in term time.

WilsonFrickett Tue 13-Nov-12 19:00:22

We were at the science museum a few weeks ago and agree, the walk from South Ken tube is long for a wee one who can't walk very far without tiring. We were in term time and it was dead. Would not do it at the weekend tbh. And yes, phone! You never know what they'll come up with to make your life easier.

LargeLatte Tue 13-Nov-12 19:44:51

Thanks all - some great ideas here. Getting less scared and more excited.

creamteas Tue 13-Nov-12 19:55:42

We often go to museums on Christmas Eve, and have found this to often be a quiet day despite being in school holidays.

In central London, my DC get on better on buses than the tube.

BooksandaCuppa Tue 13-Nov-12 20:39:23

Ditto, either first thing or right at the end of the day (well, not literally right, just leave enough time to do the main bits). We have twice 'jumped' the queue for the dinosaurs by asking one of the staff if one of us could 'hold a place' in the queue for the other and ds to join us later as we reached the front (iyswim) as he doesn't do very well with having other people close to him. ON both occasions the staff member took us right to the front of the queue (but by going the back way through the corridor, not in front of all the other queuers). On the whole I find the large museums are very SN friendly in this way.

Take your own snacks/drinks as the cafes have large queues.

If you venture next door to the Science Museum, avoid the Launchpad floor as it is always heaving - the others floors are much quieter and just as interesting.

If you think he'll not cope well on the tube, consider getting a cab from the station. Depending on which station, it might not be massively more expensive than the tube and you get much nicer views, especially if you don't visit London often. It's like getting a little sight seeing tour included in your day out.

WilsonFrickett Tue 13-Nov-12 21:00:32

DS saying 'but mummy, they are really real rockets' as he walked into the Sci Museum was worth all the hassle Large. I hope you have a brilliant time.

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