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Advice please - should I stop taking my DS to normal activities?

12 replies

SarahJenkins50 · 23/08/2022 10:49

Hi everyone, I am really struggling today and don't know if I'm doing what is best. My wonderful son (4 and a half) has ASC, I'd say mild to moderate as a non expert. We have always done activities together, zoo, museums, playgrounds etc but only really term time week days. He struggles very much with noise and can't be touched by children so we only go at quiet times.

Over the school holidays it has been hard and I've started taking him to these activities but the difference in his level of enjoyment is significant. He still has fun and likes the activities, and says he wants to go - but he also has frequent moments of upset as they are naturally busier. At the end of the day he says, e.g. "I was happy at the museum and I was scared at the museum" because he remembers when a child brushed past him and that he was scared.

I hate him being upset, and wonder if we should stop going because it is distressing for him, but at the same time he does enjoy elements and I don't want him to miss out by being unable to go.

If anyone has a similar experience and has found a way to manage it I would be so grateful for advice. We use ear defenders sometimes, it helps a little with the noise but not the touching, which is the more difficult.

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Aswad · 23/08/2022 18:47

sorry if you’ve already considered these, but are there any autism friendly sessions he could attend?

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StarDog · 23/08/2022 19:09

We try for ASD friendly where we can but otherwise go early and to places where we are members so if we have to leave after an hour it's fine and we're not trying to push the amount of time spent to make up for entry cost. Yes, it means we have a narrower range of places to visit (usually small independent places) but over time we stay there longer and it's less stressful as they are familiar with the layout etc and it feels safe. Honestly, it also when you can stay a couple of hours rather than leave after ten mins! Not sure if that is any help but someone more experienced than me will be along!

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SachiLars · 25/08/2022 07:19

What about using these places at less busy times eg just before closing? Although I guess this might disrupt other routines?

Also I have found some SEND swimming lessons for my son which are designed with ASC in mind. He’s loving them. So maybe look for things like that?

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SarahJenkins50 · 25/08/2022 19:49

Thank you everyone for your comments. Yes some places do AS friendly sessions which we have made use of sometimes although less recently. It does help when we have gone to these and @StarDog you make a good point - over time as he gets used to the settings it might become easier for him to cope.

I worry mainly that I'm taking him to places which he finds stressful and it would be better for him not to go at all, but I am also reluctant to stop because I would fear he then misses out completely.

Thank you @SachiLars SEND swimming lessons do sound like a good option. I will certainly look into those. Water has been a particular challenge for him!

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SarahJenkins50 · 25/08/2022 19:51

I should have added - since he will be starting school it isn't as simple as waiting to be able to go during term time, which is partly why I am finding it hard to know what is best. I will need to find a longer term strategy.

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SusanStoHelitsPoker · 26/08/2022 16:52

Send sessions are your friend as are going with any local sen groups that are organising trips. Not only will these places be quieter, you'll also find that children feel freer to be their authentic selves rather than trying to copy (mask) NT kids. It's a much better experience! And then your child doesn't have to miss out.

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openupmyeagereyes · 26/08/2022 18:45

Has your ds seen an occupational therapist about his sensory issues? There may be ways to work on his sensitivity to touch.

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Slopey · 27/08/2022 16:35

I agree about the OT. In some areas it means going private though.

I think there's a middle ground. We stuck to mainstream things that work for us. So big busy zoo, probably not, but a small local city farm with a few animals, great. Big popular soft play probably not, low key climbing wall or small leisure centre soft play, great.

The only guarantee is that things will change. I spotted a local club that I thought might work for DS and stalked them on FB for years.They take DC from age 5. DS started at 11, it clicked, and now it's something be does every single Saturday, and weekdays in the holidays. It's a huge part of his life. But I think if he'd tried it at 5 it would have just been another failure (we've had many!!). I'm not sure what I'm saying really. Maybe that it's more about adapting and responding than making a long term strategy, for us.

Also don't be afraid of trying things. Eg if your son adores trains he might be able to tolerate more noise and crowds in a train museum. Annual passes are also fab so you can do several short visits, rather than one big day out. They take the pressure off I find.

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Starlightstarbright1 · 28/08/2022 20:34

I have taken the approach with my Ds to watch for triggers when enough is enough... i always do talk about the positives too.

I personally have previously suffered horrific anxiety and know avoiding things doesn't help..but too much puts you back.. its a balance issue.

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SarahJenkins50 · 30/08/2022 13:31

Thank you everyone for making the time to reply. I will absolutely take some time to look into more SEND sessions and try the little and often approach.

@openupmyeagereyes he has had OT some time ago but that was actually before the issue with touch became so apparent, so I think some more sessions might be helpful.

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CluelessCars · 01/09/2022 23:35

If touch from others is a trigger for him, might it work to use a large buggy or bike trailer so he feels shielded? Lots of venues are actually big enough that a buggy is fine. We do that for my DD (4) sometimes. Or she asks to be carried in our arms as that feels safe for her (she's heavy though!)

It's so great he can articulate to you that he liked the outing but was also scared. It's hard to hear, but it's great he can say it and talk about it.

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Sprogonthetyne · 06/09/2022 10:47

We've definitely changed what we do since DS started school, but still manage to take him places. We have annual passes to a few local attractions and go for an hour or so as soon as it opens, insted for trying for a full day out. We have a couple of SEND sessions we frequent and do a lot of outdoor activities, where you can avoid people more. We also tend to do counter intuitive options, so we wrap up and go to the beach on cloudy days and do soft play on sunny days, which helps miss the crowds.

Bigger attractions we tend to save for inset days, or sometimes we go to attractions in the next county over if school holidays are different.

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