There are probably at ton of websites that help you out with Special Needs facilities and the likes for London. But we don’t think of Marcus with Special Needs, we think of him as Marcus. At 7 years old, he is like a toddler – mostly in a buggy, but with the ability to wander a bit. Curious about everything. He is big, heavy and strong so if he doesn’t want to do something, its not happening.
Here are our top tips for London –
- Stay above ground. However, the tube wasn’t really a problem. Buggies on escalators are risky. Large buggies in the rush hour are a squeeze. Carrying buggies up and down stairs is tiring, especially if you have other bags at the end of the day. That said, the tube is so efficient and central to everywhere you want to get to, suck it up and get on it with it. We found that using it first thing was better and then wandering home at night worked well. Marcus loved every minute of the tube. Think of it from his view point, trains trains trains!
- Factor in child friendly activities every day. But don’t fill your day with them. On a holiday everyone needs to be happy, but that doesn’t mean life revolves around your kids. Try and do something each day for everyone, remembering that you are in a city. All that might mean is a stint in a park, some ice cream or 30 minutes in a toy shop. And for the kids……ha ha. Accept that when you are in the park, the kids are not going to want to move on a quickly as you would like. Factor that it. Give them a 5 minute warning, then another, then another.
- Spend time in and around your accommodation making it child friendly. Accidents happen. But we don’t want them to. We spent a few minutes in every room in our accommodation thinking about the potential problems. Stairs, cupboards, locks on toilet doors, outside door locks, key hooks, window openings, taps, etc etc. If you have an outside area, check that too. We had to use some string to tie up a gate outside, just in case. Check it all again later in the week to – other family members, cleaners etc might just move things about. If you live in the UK, staying in another UK house it going to present the same challenges as in your own home. Get some piece of mind by spending some time early in the holiday checking them out.
- Take a toy. Marcus loves his routine and things he is familiar with. He kisses the car when he sees it! Take a few toys with you that your child is used to playing with. This provides a sense of security for them and gives you a much needed rest when you want it. Take something that they can have in the pram too – most of your time will be in places where your child might be interested for a few minutes and then bored the next. On this trip, Marcus bought a toy and took that round with him. Don’t worry if it gets dirty, dropped or bust – that’s what toys are for. If your child is anything like Marcus – wifi internet access is a must. Don’t overlook this when booking your place.
- Try new things. How do you know if your child is going to like the things you like? What if they like the things you don’t? How would you ever know? Marcus really enjoyed the Tate Modern. Who would have thought it. Often children with additional needs respond to different types of stimulation. What works for one child might not for another. Same with adults.
- Expect the unexpected. Marcus loves dinosaurs. He ‘roars’ with the best of them. We knew the fossils of dinosaurs wouldn’t interest him in the Natural History Museum, but we thought he would love the ‘real life’ T-Rex. He was terrified. Screamed, clambered out of his pram, held on tight round my neck. Couldn’t wait to get out. How do children tell the difference between real and fake? If its ‘life like’ its real life to them. He spent more time staring at buses, boats and bikes. You don’t have to spend money on things for kids to enjoy them.
Overall, a break in London worked well for us. Think about going into your local city for a day. What do you need to consider? What if you were in a relaxed mood, had money and were going to visit the best the city had to offer? Would you be up for it? Now, multiply that by a few days or even a week. That’s what its going to be like in London.