Article from Dec/Jan 2017 Issue of PosAbility Magazine  

Words by Katie Campbell/ 2A Publishing Ltd ©

Keeping kids occupied over Christmas is a  difficult task – but it needn’t be impossible! There’s loads to do and  children with additional needs don’t need to feel left out of fun Christmas activities over the festive period. From a daytrip to the movies to a fun,  slime-filled afternoon at home, there’s so much to do that will get both you and the kids into the Christmas spirit. We’ve come up with a few ideas to get you out and about over the festive period to have yourself a merry little Christmas.

A Day at  the Movies

Many cinemas host autism-friendly movie screenings, where the theatre lights remain lit, the movie’s volume is lowered and people are free to move around the screen. Cinewold, Odeon and Vue cinemas will be screening blockbusters like My Little Pony: The Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie, ideal for a daytrip over the Christmas holidays, and fun enough for mum and dad to enjoy too. Saffron Screen in Essex, a small, independent cinema will be showing new Christmas movie The Star, featuring Kelly Clarkson and Oprah Winfrey, on the 23 December at 11am.

Panto Season

Panto is a great way to keep kids busy over the holidays (oh no it isn’t – oh yes it is!), and a number of theatres are putting on pantomimes with sign language, captions or audio description for those who may be hard of hearing. The Ambassador Theatre Group, who own a string of theatres round the UK, is putting on a number of pantomimes, including Sleeping Beauty at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre, and Aladdin at the Hippodrome in Bristol. Each theatre provides a different assistance for those with auditory or visual impairment, so check their website or contact them for additional information.

Christmas Adventure

If you go down to the woods this Christmas – specifically Stockeld Park in Weatherby – you’re in for a big surprise. The park is hosting a special Christmas Adventure this year, with its enchanted forest full of stunning Christmas lights and illuminated sculptures, all under a sea of twinkling lights. The park is perfect for exploring, with areas filled with climbing nests, tunnels, jungle bridges and zip wires. Stockeld Park prides itself on its disability access, but notes that due to gravel paths wheelchair users may find this difficult – but the staff are more than happy to assist if asked.

Take to the Ice

Is there any winter activity more fun than ice skating? Nottingham’s National Ice Arena holds regular disability-inclusive skating sessions, where children can use skates, specially designed sledges, or their own wheelchair, dependant on their requirements. Alternatively, try hitting the slopes in Soar at Braehead, near Glasgow, which offers one-on-one ski lessons through Disability Snowsports UK, where a trained instructor will teach pupils how to carve up the slopes. If you’re looking for a winter sport a little out of the ordinary, head to Ice Sheffield, where the Sheffield Steelkings para ice hockey team hold weekly taster classes. Equipment is provided by the team, so it’s easy to get involved in the fun and dynamic sport of para ice hockey.

Art Attack

If some quality time at home seems like a better idea this Christmas, why not do some festive arts and crafts? Practical activities which offer both the ability to create and have a positive outcome on a child’s emotions. Why not try making a pom-pom snowman? Wrap white wool around three paper donuts – one large, one medium, and one small – until the wool is full and tight. Then, cut along the side, remove the paper, and glue the pom-poms together. You can even add googly eyes and a little woollen carrot nose to complete the look! The little snowman can be squashed, squeezed, and feels soft and comforting to the touch, making it ideal for some festive sensory play. Alternatively, try making homemade slime – add red or green colouring and glitter for a festive touch. You can get great ideas on Pinterest for fun, festive crafty ideas.

Visit Santa’s Grotto

Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire is this year hosting a Santa’s Grotto suited for children with additional needs. The zoo is adamantly against the ‘two-minute Santa visit’ rule, allowing children as much or as little time as they’d like to spend with Old Saint Nick. The zoo is positioned on flat land with no steep inclines, making it ideal for those with mobility issues, has access to disabled facilities, and has both indoor and outdoor viewing sections for those who also want to enjoy the vast array of animals living at the zoo while they visit Santa.