Open space and a closeness to nature can help calm the mind and recharge the soul.
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It can be hard to achieve a relaxed family holiday with a hidden disability and we know some many families have given up, but now more than ever it is important to give it a go again, after the difficulties of lockdown and its impact on the mental wellbeing of families like ours.
It is becoming well recognised that people on the spectrum cope better with life, in uncrowded outside spaces helping them deal with sensory overload more effectively, reducing the risk of meltdown and opening up the opportunity to learn new life skills.
Planning is key!
- All families with a hidden disability know how important planning is. Bringing familiar favourite foods, bedding and toys can all help.
- The location is important, know how the holiday accommodation environment can help you and what hazards you might need to be aware of for your family. A child friendly accommodation, with few ornaments, chunky robust furniture and good fencing can help you relax. A hidden disability awareness scheme can help you feel less judge.
- Planning the journey, which motorway services are best for you to stop at and having plenty of food in the car, tablets and chargers are great too.
- Arrive during daylight with plenty of time to settle in before it is time for bed.
- If WiFi is important to your family, even just for bedtime settling, then remember that most glamping sites don't offer WiFi encouraging family connection and the closer to nature experience. Think about extra data bundles to use a phone as a hot spot or invest in a mobile WiFi device. Check out mobile signals with the accommodation before you arrive. Prepare your child to be ready to have time away from tablets.
- Check out websites for pictures of the site and local area. Think about what you might experience on your holiday, sights, sounds and smells.
- Use a planned visual timetable for your stay, even if it is just now and next to reduce anxiety of change.
- Book any experiences in advance - check out carer discounts or special needs offers at attractions.. then book it before you arrive.
- Plan you days and follow a routine with regular meals and times for going out during the day, to help with predicting what is next and reducing anxiety levels.
- Pack plenty of spare clothes and bedding just in case.
- Glamping with grand parents, another family or small group of families can help you relax with familiar people who can help if you need it and will understand if you need some space. Separate accommodation is key.
What we can offer!
We are not a 'specialist site' however we have tried to set up our site to be as autism friendly as we can, based on the experience of our family and those who have stayed with us in the past four seasons. We are very proud to have been the first glamping site to achieve the National Autistic Societie's 'Autism Friendly' Award and to have held it since 2017. For us creating a relaxing supportive environment has been key.
We have a sunflower pack that can be pre-booked which is designed to give a little extra support to families who have a hidden disability like autism, helping them get the most out of their holiday. It contains a sunflower lanyard (we are part of the hidden disabilities sunflower lanyard scheme), suggestions of places to visit away from the crowds and some extra information about our site.
We will send you a social story by e.mail before you arrive, tailored to the accommodation type you have booked. (we recommend our safari tents for families on the spectrum visiting us for the first time).
Our safari tents are large self-contained spaces, with mains flushing toilets, and mini kitchens all inside. The luxury shower pods have colour change shower heads to help those with anxiety cope with having a shower, they are also big enough to allow an adult to clean a child if needed.
All our beds have 'hospital' style zip in, wipe clean mattress protectors.... just in case.
We have very few ornaments and our furniture in the safari tents is very chunky and robust.
We have created a sensory cubby in each safari tent which is dark and enclosed, offering a sensory chill out space within the tent.
Our safari tents have large gated deck areas and Badger has a ramp which helps with larger push chairs.
There are some low hooks in the safari tents for PECs charts to hang on (as recommended by one of our previous guests)
We have an enclosed high cabin bed which children love because it feels like a tree house... up the ladder into bed, a nice enclosed darker space.
Our site gates are kept locked, you are given a key on arrival.
Our hedges are high and we have good fencing, it would not stop a determined escapee but it does give a chance for a parent or carer to catch up. Allowing children to experience more freedom and space from carers than everyday life can afford.
We don't have WiFi but although not guaranteed, there is usually a good mobile signals on our site for most providers. EE is usually the strongest.
We are a very small site! with just two safari tents that sleep up to six, a shepherd hut that sleeps up to four and bell tents that sleep up to four. So you are not dealing with lots of other families and could book the whole site if you have a group of friends who want to come away together, supporting each other.
We have mini horses, guineapigs, chickens, quails and cats on site. We have found that petting and watching animals has an important therapeutic effect helping with calming and relaxation.
Check out our 'inclusion' page for more information about what we can offer, or get in touch if you have any questions.
Special holiday dates
If you would prefer an Autism friendly stay with other families on the spectrum we can offer a holiday opportunity in August. From the 17th August for up to a week. If you would like to book this stay do get in touch. A chance to make precious family memories to treasure.