As autism awareness increases around the globe, more and more public spaces are putting in the extra effort to become autism-friendly. Cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, cruise lines, amusement parks, and even entire communities are pulling out all the stops to be accommodating to their visitors on the autism spectrum. And now an adventure park called William’s Den is hopping on the bandwagon.
William’s Den is an exciting adventure play park located in the U.K. There’s a 475 square meter play barn as well as an expansive outdoor area to accommodate lots of kiddos and their parents and provide a wide variety of different activities.
Inside the den is a tree house and a maze of other structures for patrons to climb and run around in. Outside, there are tire swings, zip lines, areas for climbing and rolling around, an amphitheatre, an area for making forts and other structures, and a “mud kitchen.” In between play sessions, children and adults can feast on pizza and ice cream, as well as other snacks for sale.
Now William’s Den is also hosting special sessions for children with special needs, including autism. These autism-friendly evenings occur once or twice a month and help autism families get the social interaction and physical play they need without all the stress of sensory overload or the fear of being looked down upon by others.
“We at William’s Den are committed to providing a setting for every child and their family/carer no matter what their needs,” says owner Tor Carver. “Our specially trained staff are continuously looking for ways to create play sessions, not just for the needs of the children, but also the needs of their parents/carers. Following feedback, we recognise that some parents feel isolated, therefore a session such as this would give them a chance to share experiences, chat and relax.”
Carver adds, “We understand that children with heightened senses can find large noisy groups intimidating. We believe they would benefit and enjoy the chance to come to a play session which is smaller and specially aimed at children with diverse needs. So why not come along and meet other families, carers and children with additional needs in a relaxed environment.”
The park has an online schedule to let you know which Wednesdays coming up will be autism-friendly. Light snacks and drinks will be available for purchase, and caregivers get in free from 6-8 p.m.
And the best part? Grown-ups are totally welcome to join in the fun as well! So few parks welcome parents to play alongside their children, but the staff at William’s Den believes adults should be able to have fun in their facilities too!
Take a look at the video below to see some of the neat things William’s Den has to offer!
Have you been to William’s Den or another park that worked hard to make accommodations for young people with autism and other disorders and disabilities? We’d love to hear about what made it such a special experience for you!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?