It is that time of year again – Party Season. I know it is hard when a child is different to others to cope with their additional needs at a party – but honestly The Sensory Seeker is doing so well that I would actually say he isn’t much different to the others. I do understand that not everyone needs to be invited to every party but it is hard (probably more for me than him) when he is that child: You know the only child out of the whole class who hasn’t been invited.
It isn’t even so much about the party it’s about him knowing he’s not fitting in. That it is okay for everyone else to go so why not him as well? The ironic thing today was that he came out with a sheet about worries – the school obviously trying to get disclosures for social services with the use of a Worry Monster. Ironic because they weren’t very sympathetic to listening to these worries; simply saying there’s nothing we can do. I explained that I knew they couldn’t make him be invited to the party (although I am sure his EHC Plan probably does make provision to ensure that he socialises/fits in with his peers) and that I didn’t like how it was so apparent to him that he was the only one not invited (erm like they had all been handed out in front of him). I was reassured that they had only been given out at break time. It is real progress that he is getting so smart. Previously he never noticed this happening but still wanted a party to invite everyone to. A blessing and a curse of his development.
His birthday is coming up and we are taking him out of the country but he wants to have a sleepover a different day this year. He doesn’t really care who it is (well actually his first preference is his 14 year old cousin who doesn’t live near us!) he just wants a friend – someone who wants to spend time with him. But again the school will tell me that he does have friends, that he is a happy and likable member of the class – so how come he doesn’t feel that he is/has because he isn’t invited?
Disclaimer: He is invited to the odd party and I am very thankful to those parents. I just wish this wasn’t even a thing. Why invite all but one?!
When we redesigned our bathroom we had to really stop and think about our youngest son’s disability. We took him along to make sure he approved of the colour scheme and had some real issues adjusting him to a square toilet. Our son’s needs are sensory as he has sensory processing disorder and rather individual to him. More physical needs can affect not just the disabled but the elderly too so it is useful to find solutions for their bathroom.
Sensory Help in the Bathroom
I felt mindfulness really helped me understand what the Sensory Seeker needed in the bathroom. I found that even the slightest tilt of my head under the shower can make the noises sound very different. This gave me an insight into the fact that even small changes can make a big sensory difference. Sensory Processing Disorder is different for each individual and it can be every time they enter the bathroom, depending on their sensory diet that day. Knowing if The Sensory Seeker would be effected by colours, smells, touch or temperature etc are very important factors in encouraging him into the bathroom, and then using the products he needs when in there (see also my posts about brushing his teeth and washing his hair).
I previously wrote about Sensory Processing and Bathtime problems – but have since discovered additional solutions you can have added into a bath that may help with sensory issues such as Chromotherapy and Echo. Chromotherapy is based on light therapy and uses a visible spectrum of colours which help the body harmonise the emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. The colours can be fixed or run through a cycle of seven. Not only is this useful is you have a visually sensory seeker but it also encourages the mind and body to relax. Whilst Echo is a sound therapy which utilises sounds and music to create a relaxing environment. It works wirelessly from a music player using Bluetooth technology, with simple volume controls at the fingertips of the user. Again great for the auditory sensory seeker but also relaxing for mind and body.
Do you have any other helpful hints when it comes to the bathroom?
There’s no denying it that the internet is a big part of children’s lives; with new kinds of lessons about child safety – for both them and us parents to learn about. My husband and I learnt the hard way that we had to be savvier about what goes on online when we potentially could have lost our children due to some issues with child safety and the internet. Here I will cover things that every parent should think about when it comes to children’s internet safety and some things that are happening that we may need to be aware of.
There are so many devices that children can access the internet on now – not just Personal Computers, but each one has roughly the same issues for child safety. There are laptops (which are obviously portable), games consoles (including portable ones), tablets, iPods, Skype, WhatsApp and there’s probably a lot more I haven’t remembered. PLUS there’s the fact that even if your child does not have access to one of these then once they leave the home then someone else can show them on theirs. Plus it seems that children are having mobile phones younger and younger. For me internet safety falls into two categories – the first being the obvious we need to stop our young children accidentally coming across content (whether that be visually or people) that is not safe or suitable for them; and the second is those who are going looking for that content – out of either curiosity growing-up and/or peer pressure.
Some problems with Child Safety and the Internet
Let’s start with the lesser of the evils and that is spending. Be careful of in-app purchases and advertising around what they are using online – we ensure everything requires a password and that you need to keep re-entering the password rather than it still working when you give the child back the device. Obviously also ensure that the content is age-appropriate for the child before you download it too.
Children keeping themselves safe
These are probably the problems that we are most familiar with – knowing that children must be aware that not everyone online is who they say they are. Make sure your child knows basic rules such as not to tell everyone everything about themselves – not a photo in your school clothes with the logo, your address, telephone number, password or even your age and name. Using nicknames to connect with friends is a good idea – and once they start wanting to play on “servers” – but try to ensure that these are moderated. Don’t accept things from people you do not know – including messages, e-mails and texts.
Make sure any social media accounts are private, not public, and that they only connect with people they know. Plus regularly check the security settings. Ensure that they are in the living room with their devices and make sure you can hear what is going on – I would think twice about headsets until you are absolutely sure that they would be safe (we are still saying no to our thirteen year old). The same can be said of webcams and if they have access to “Facetime”. If they do decide to meet up with someone make sure other people know where they are going (with permission of their parents) and meet in a public place.
Some of the things that children are experiencing today are much the same as we did when we are growing up – bullying and peer pressure, wanting to be “grown-up” etc but now they are magnified with the use of the internet. I am sure we have all seen the videos on social media of the children being beaten up whilst someone else is just standing their filming it on their phones. Other bullying can be a lot more subtle – little comments, exclusion – including not giving “likes” and even nasty or inappropriate private messages. I think it is important to be aware of the platforms that have these private messages as you may only be monitoring your child’s account by having them as a “friend.” Top ones that spring to mind for me are: Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and any games which have a chat facility. I find that on YouTube people can be just nasty publically. I guess it is so much easier to be an anonymous behind a keyboard. Plus be aware that your child is capable of making a new account where they know you know nothing about it. I am not sure which is worse – having a child who is bullied or IS the bully?! Either way try to keep a close-eye on their activity and devices. Take an interest in what they are doing online – what are they playing, and join in. Let them know that they can come to you if they feel that they are someone else is experiencing something unpleasant.
So one minute your child is watching a video on YouTube – a Minecraft Video, or Peppa Pig – and the next thing they are watching a totally inappropriate Peppa Pig video that someone has made. It has come on because YouTube thinks it is of a similar nature and lets it autoplay. In situation one you can avoid this by getting your children to use YouTube Kids and parental controls. However children are very technically minded and can easily change the settings (for example to say that they are over eighteen years old) in order to search for this content. Some people would argue that this natural curiosity is no different to sneaking an adult magazine into their bedroom when they were younger – but that it is a lot more accessible. I am afraid that there is a lot more seriousness than this with videos being available to children of a very abusive nature and not what they are ready to cope with; never mind any cyber grooming they put themselves at risk of. I believe Google search and YouTube to be known to have the worst most easily accessible inappropriate content to children.
Other things that are happening at the moment are sexting and sending naked images and I have even read about children opting to access porn as young as 7 years old – and this wasn’t a one-off child. This could be due to hearing things at school and from other kids – who may have older siblings. Of course online grooming is very real such as the case of murdered teenager Kayleigh Haywood.
I think the most important thing here is to talk open and frankly with your child about these issues. Don’t make them feel ashamed. Let them know that they are loved and it is dangerous/unsafe. Remember what it was like to want to be older than you are and wanting to fit in. Tell them that their curiosity and urges are normal (even if you wish they were not). Do things to ensure that their self-esteem is raised and not damaged from the experience.
Extreme Measures for keeping children Safe Online
Sometimes as parents we need to take extreme measures – as maybe the case if your child has ended up with an addiction. Our devices are now controlled by our HomeHalo (which only allows the internet at certain times, controls each device for where it can and can’t access and at what times – I have also heard there is one called Guardian Web) plus we completely turn the router off at night; there are administrator accounts on things were possible and each one needs a password entering before anyone can use it – which only us parents know. There are then parental controls – which are also on the television (we even had to stop children’s channels being accessible in the middle of the night); the history is monitored and small handheld devices are locked away at night-time (we bought a safe especially for this). We haven’t but you can install an app such as SMS Backup+ which e-mails a copy of every SMS, MMS and WhatsApp message that is sent or received on a phone, as well as logging every incoming and outgoing phone call. Plus you can set e-mail accounts to auto-forward copies of every e-mail sent or received from your child’s address.
Resources of help for keeping Children Safe Online
Books are a great source of help especially the ones that help children understand what is happening to them as they grow up.
The NSPCC – they have a great range of resources for these topics for different ages. I like the one called I saw your willy – that demonstrates that even if you post something for a few seconds and delete it – it is too late and potentially the whole world can see it.
For parents there is the Youngminds Parents’ Helpline which offeres free confidental online and telephone support, information and advice to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of twenty-five years old. It is a free call – 0808 8025544.
Thinkuknow, is a websiteset up by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and offers advice and guidance for both children and parents.
Of course with our special needs children there is even more of a risk of their vulnerability – and they may not understand what is appropriate and what isn’t. This is, unfortunately, how we came to discover that our son is also most likely on the Autistic Spectrum. Luckily it did not go unnoticed and he was safe – but not without a lot of hard work on his part and a lot of emotional distress.
When it comes to Christmas and the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder it is all about making sure they still manage to get the right Sensory Diet. Trouble is with all the additional Sensory input (especially in terms of vision, sounds and smells) then this is going to knock their normal routine right out. I have already talked about how to tackle things such as Visiting friends and Family at Christmas . This post is particular about Sensory Craving at Christmas. The way I have found is best to deal with Sensory Craving is to ensure that there is a regular and often stimulation given. In a way I have provided a Sensory Advent Calendar this year to help calm the excitement a little.
It is key to consider what it is that has changed and is affecting them, and what can be done to get the balance right once more. This can be really difficult to understand because it may be that there is more visual stimulation than normal so you try to limit it (keeping decorations to a minimum for example): On the other hand it may be that you need to give them more opportunities to touch as they NEED to explore the world around them. Christmas for us is one of the most difficult times of the year as The Sensory Seeker gets so excited but often struggles to control his emotions and reactions. As well as trying to keep him at the right balance we ensure that he is supervised more than usual and remember that once things are back to how they were then things will be easier.
The Benefits of a Sensory Advent Calendar
The benefits of a Sensory Advent Calendar for our Sensory Seeker has meant that The Sensory Seeker is not just waiting until Christmas to get all his much needed Sensory Stimulation. Sensory Craving at Christmas can be a nightmare as our Sensory Seeker just cannot get enough input to the senses (mostly auditory, movement and touch; but he is also more sensitive to smell – but seems to want to avoid those). He gets really excited about actual Christmas day and I have found that giving him something to do each day has helped his Sensory diet. This in turn has meant it has been much easier with his hygiene issues (Sensory Craving is not pleasant where the toilet is involved!), especially cleaning his teeth – and sleep (ie he is managing to pretty much stick to his routine and get sleep!). It has also made the build up to Christmas a pleasant one for the whole family – doing nice things together, as opposed to feeling like we are just trying to contain the Sensory Seeker’s excitement a little! An added bonus of this has also been that he has been encouraged to at least try more foods – he even licked a lettuce leaf!
About the Sensory Advent Calendar
The Sensory Advent Calendar is simply having twenty-four things to do with The Sensory Seeker, one each day in December until Christmas Day. ? I wanted to get a real mix when deciding what to include in the Sensory Advent Calendar. I told the children that we would be doing a different thing each day but did not tell them what basing which activity we did being dependent of The Sensory Seeker’s needs and the needs of the whole family. Let’s face it just because he may have limitless energy at this time of year does not necessarily mean that I do too!! Your family may need something more structured and, depending on what works best for you and your family, maybe you could map something out, even produce a visual aid showing the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder what they are doing each day.
Activities to include in a Sensory Advent Calendar
There are obviously a great many things you can do with your child over Christmas, with a wealth of ideas online: Things I considered when creating The Sensory Advent Calendar consisted of activities to get really messy and creative; others were simple, clean and easy to organise and tidy away: Some that he could do independently, and others that involved us all coming together.
Does he require noise? Ideas include singing Christmas Carols, Playing with noisy Christmas novelties or playing Christmas songs (and maybe even having a dance too). Or simply getting outside and letting him be as vocal as he likes! Or if he wants to be settled and quiet some Christmas colouring or other quiet calm activity.
Does he require movement? Again dancing (or playing Just Dance on the computer) is a great way to get movement, as well as our 14ft trampoline, ice-skating and walking around to see Christmas lights. We are regularly doing Parkrun and are carrying this into December – but wearing festive clothes! I have previously written about the benefits of the Forest and Sensory Processing Disorder – and at this time of year you can catch falling leaves – or collect things to craft with at home. When he does not need movement and needs to settle and relax I have bought him some films to watch (linked in with the Christmas presents he has asked for this year), planned trips to the cinema, have Christmas story books to read (The Night Before Christmas Olaf style is The Sensory Seeker’s favourite), make Christmas shapes in our LEGO (also good for fine motor) or play a board game.Does he require touch? I had some really messy activities where he could get covered in paint and glitter. But also some edible ones where it didn’t matter if he tried to eat what he was touching! This could even be tied in with making gifts – such as our Christmas Tree Biscuits.
Which kind of activity used also was determined by time – such as was he able to easily have bath to get clean afterwards. I considered which kind of materials to use – does he need the same as he did last time or would he benefit from a different ones? (see my previous Sensory Snowman post). We made Reindeer food so that he could put it out on Christmas Eve so that he can visually associate it with being the night that Father Christmas comes out.
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Does he require smell? The Sensory Seeker has been more sensitive to smell and taken a dislike to some. The ideas I have when he needs smell are – a big bowl of freshly cooked popcorn; creating ornaments (such as Wonderbaby’s Apple & Cinnamon Ornaments); a scented candle (supervised); bubble bath/bath bomb or even a real Christmas tree.
I hope this post has been useful for you – and this blog has lots of ideas on it of things to do with the Individual with Sensory Processing Disorder. If you are having Bad days – then please read my previous post and hopefully things will be easier in the New Year.
Friendships. When it comes to friendships it is the one thing I really struggle with. Whether that is because I am actually Autistic or not makes no odds because either way I don’t seem to be able to keep friends. So when my children come home and tell me that they have no friends I really do not have the right words for them. I want to go and make people be friends with them, or tell my kids – fuck them they don’t deserve your friendship anyway. But it is the most painful thing and I know I long for that bond that others seem to have so easily.
It started when The Sensory Seeker made an imaginary friend – his name is a crossed between Mr Invisible and Mr Invincible (he gets the two mixed up and when I tried to correct him he said, “He’s my friend and so I can call him what I like!” I have never had any imaginary friends in my house before and I am glad that he is able to be creative but I do hope it is not because the school are failing him socially – and I fear that that may be the case.
I would go in and speak to the school about it but I haven’t for two reasons – the first being that when we go into the playground other children call his name in a way that seems to be pleased to see him. Plus he hasn’t been sobbing and breaking his heart, he just tells me that no-one plays with him at break time. Oh and because the school don’t really seem to care. No schools seem to be bothered about the social side of my children’s disabilities in my opinion – but maybe that’s because I am one of “those” parents.
The really heart breaking thing though was, not to hear that no-one wants to play with The Sensory Seeker, but that his confident, well-loved, well-liked older brother confided in my that his close friends no longer want to play with him because of his brother (The Sensory Seeker). Although I would like to hope this is not true since he told me I have actually stopped to notice what happens in the playground in the morning and there is a shift in the dynamics. I want to be able to tell him how to fix it, how to either get that friendship back on track or deal with it and move on – but I am no good at any of that and really don’t know how. I can’t go and speak to the other children’s parents because it is just one of those things – and you can’t make people be friends.
I hope it isn’t true and my children are just trying to get even more attention from me, and actually they are happy and well-liked at school – but my own fears choke me up – and I am just glad they have each other.
Do you have any experience with this? Any tips or advice for me and/or them?
Please note that the photo was taken in the morning before school and he wasn’t actually alone in the playground at playtime – which is also why he looks so happy.
The National Theatre, Southbank, London has bookings now open for the Relaxed Performance of Peter Pan showing on Saturday 21st January 2017 at 2pm.
All children, except one, grow up… When Peter Pan, the leader of the Lost Boys, loses his shadow during a visit to London, headstrong Wendy helps him reattach it. In return she is invited to Neverland – where Tinker Bell the fairy, Tiger Lily and the vengeful Captain Hook await. Exploring the possibilities and pain of growing up, it’s a riot of magic, mischief, music and make-believe.
Relaxed performances are specifically designed to welcome people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory or communication disorders, or learning disabilities. There is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement, and some small changes made to the lighting and sound effects. An easy way to understand the atmosphere is perhaps ‘the opposite of the quiet carriage on the train’. There will be a ‘break out’ space and friendly ushers on hand to assist. A Visual Story, a short information document emailed/posted to all bookers prior to performance, will contain information and pictures about the performance, plot, characters and some information about the venue to help prepare visitors for their visit to the theatre. Peter Pan is suitable for children aged 7+. Bookers will need to decide if the show will be suitable for the person’s cognitive (and not necessarily chronological) age.
Peter Pan at The National Theatre is a co-production with Bristol Old Vic; devised by the Companies and based on the works of JM Barrie. Directed by Sally Cookson with dramaturgy by Mike Akers, set design by Michael Vale, costume design by Katie Sykes, lighting by Aideen Malone, music by Benji Bower, sound design by Dominic Bilkey, movement by Dan Canham, aerial direction by Gwen Hales, fight direction by Rachel Bown-Williams and Ruth Cooper–Brown of RC-ANNIE Ltd, and puppet direction and design by Toby Olié. The National Theatre would like to thank Sophie Thompson for developing the roles of Captain Hook and Mrs Darling. The cast includes: Saikat Ahamed, Suzanne Ahmet, Marc Antolin, Lois Chimimba, Laura Cubitt, Phoebe Fildes, Anna Francolini, Felix Hayes, Paul Hilton, John Leader, Amaka Okafor, John Pfumojena, Jessica Temple, Dan Wheeler and Madeleine Worrall.
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including a 20-minute interval
Tickets: adult £16 / under-18s £10
Other Accessible Performances:
Audio-described performances: Saturday 17 December at 2pm, Monday 19 December at 7pm
Pre-show touch tour: Saturday 17 December at 12.30pm
Captioned performance: Wednesday 28 December at 7pm, Friday 3 February at 7pm and Saturday 4 February at 2pm
National Theatre, Olivier Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX
RELAXED WORKSHOP: Junk Puppets
Saturday 21 January, 11am – 1pm, Duffield Studio
A morning of inclusive activities for all the family. With NT workshop leaders, you will design and create your own puppets and learn how to bring them to life. The workshop has been created specifically for families with disabled children aged 6 – 12, but is open to all. All children must be accompanied by an adult, and all adults accompanied by a child. Each adult may only be responsible for a maximum of 2 children.
Directed by Richard Bracewell (2015), PG, 92 minutes
Saturday 11 February, 11.30am, Cottesloe Room
Infectious energy and brilliant gags from some of the team behind Horrible Histories. This film tells the story of ‘what really happened’ during Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’ – how the hopeless lute player Bill Shakespeare left his family and home to follow his dream. Along the way he encounters murderous kings, spies, lost loves, and a plot to blow up Queen Elizabeth.
During the screening, there is a relaxed attitude to noise and movement and some small changes made to the light and sound effects. The cinema lights will be on low and the volume turned down slightly. There will be no trailers or advertisements before the film starts and you are welcome to move around the cinema space if you want to.
When it comes to Christmas and the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder it is all about making sure they still manage to get the right Sensory Diet. Trouble is with all the additional Sensory input (especially in terms of vision, sounds and smells) then this is going to knock their normal routine right out. It is key to consider what it is that has changed and is affecting them, and what can be done to get the balance right once more. This can be really difficult to understand because it may be that there is more visual stimulation than normal so you try to limit it (keeping decorations to a minimum for example): On the other hand it may be that you need to give them more opportunities to touch as they NEED to explore the world around them. Christmas for us is one of the most difficult times of the year as The Sensory Seeker gets so excited but often struggles to control his emotions and reactions. As well as trying to keep him at the right balance we ensure that he is supervised more than usual and remember that once things are back to how they were then things will be easier.
Sensory Christmas Activities for the Sensory Seeker
I try to ensure that we do a good mix of Christmas Activities on the build up to Christmas and how I run that activity will depend on The Sensory Seeker. For example – does he need noise (and therefore we will put Christmas music on, sing, etc) or does he need it settled and quiet? Does he need a non-messy activity that he can really touch? Or does he need to get messy (and plan a bath time straight afterwards). Which kind of materials should I use – does he need the same as he did last time or would he benefit from a different one?
Sensory Snowman Cards
To demonstrate what I mean let’s take the idea of making a Snowman Christmas Card. You can really vary how much sensory input is involved and vary the craft material. This year we used shredded paper.
This is a non-messy craft in terms of it getting stuck to The Sensory Seeker but meant he could get it all over his hands (and my room!) without too much fuss. It was easy for him to understand the craft – as he simply had to stick it into two circular shapes. You could draw around something round like In the Playroom’s Upcycled Snowman Collage Cards. He was then free to use whatever craft materials he liked to decorate his snowman.
Alternatively, if this would have been too difficult for him I could have put the glue on the card in circles myself; Or the circles could be drawn with a white crayon (on a darker background); Or stuck on with paper or felt; Or even used cotton wool pads like this Quick Craft Snowman Card from RedTedArt.
If you wanted to get messier than how about using finger prints to make snowmen out of white paint. Or if you wanted to use paint without getting dirty how about using the end of an old toilet roll holder to put circles of paint on the page.
Celebrated director and choreographer Arthur Pita returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio this Christmas withð his magical dance theatre show, The Little Match Girl. An unlikely heroine is an impoverished young street girl, who wanders the ever-darkening streets with just one final match to keep her warm on a cold Christmas Eve.
Relaxed Performance Thursday 15th December, 1pm
The Relaxed Performance will have:
An altered performance
wheelchair spaces (please note these have all sold out for this performance)
A chill out area
Visual Story and Story Board available before the performance by e-mail when booking
Join the Access Scheme to keep up to date with what’s on at Sadler’s Wells in a format that suits you. If you are in receipt of disability-related state benefits, you may also be entitled to a reduction on the cost of your ticket. Reduced price tickets are limited to one per booking per production.
If you require further information and/or disability related assistance please contact:
Sadler’s Wells, the Lilian Baylis Studio and the Peacock Theatre are all inside the congestion charge zone. If you want to drive in the congestion charge zone between 7am – 6.00pm Monday to Friday, excluding Public Holidays, you will have to pay the £11.50 charge. There are some exemptions and discounts. For more information and to find out how to pay, visit Transport for London. Sadler’s Wells is just inside the zone, depending where you are coming from it is possible to park outside the zone with a short walk to the theatre – this is not so easy at the Peacock Theatre. The nearest car park to Sadler’s Wells outside the congestion charge zone is in Parkfield Street, off Liverpool Road.
On-street free parking in Hardwick Street and other streets off Rosebery Avenue after 6.30pm Mon-Fri and from 1.30pm on Saturdays (heavy fines apply to parking in residents? bays). There is a large 24 hour car park in nearby Bowling Green Lane.
There are 15 spaces in the Sadler’s Wells car park at the rear of the theatre off Arlington Way (postcode: EC1R 1XA) for anyone in your party who is over 65, a member of our Access scheme or a Blue Badge holder. These cost £5.00 for the over 65s and are free of charge to Access members and Blue Badge holders. To reserve a place, please contact the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000.
With Panto Season just around the corner it is good to see that so many theatres are putting on Relaxed Performances to make it more inclusive for all. I am compiling a list of Pantos with Relaxed Performances showing for the 2016-2017 Season and will add more that I hear of.
What are Relaxed Performances of a Panto?
Of course all theatres may vary slightly with what they offer but in general a Relaxed Performance is an adaptation of the regular Panto but is more suitable for those with autistic, sensory and communication conditions, learning disorders and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment. Everyone is welcome but the performances are more relaxed – meaning that people will understand if someone needs to clap their hands, make noises or move around the auditorium. Some have fewer seats for sale, providing increased wheelchair capacity and giving audience members more space to make them feel more comfortable.
Lighting effects, noises and elements of surprise are kept to a minimum and with house lights being partially up (also making it safer to move around). Doors may be left open and chill-out areas provided for if the auditorium becomes overwhelming – with beanbags, sensory toys and bubble lights, that can be accessed throughout the show. There is often a chance to become familiar with the theatre and actors before the performance and/or a visual story. Front of House teams are often given specific training if any difficulties arise. Some theatres even have Autism Support Groups on hand to give any advice and information leaflets.
Please contact each theatre to find out exactly what it is they provide before booking. Information is accurate to my understanding at time of publish, gleamed from the individual venues but I take no responsibility for errors and advise checking before placing an order/making plans.
To find about more about this performance or to book your tickets, please call the Box Office on 01483 440000. All tickets for this performance are £9 which includes the Restoration Levy and Booking Fee. When booking your tickets you can let them know if you would like a familiarisation tour prior to your visit.
Friday 16th December 2016
Peter Pan – 10:30am Hawth Theatre, Hawth Ave, Crawley RH10 6YZ
Stars Shaun Williamson, aka Barry from EastEnders, Emma Barton (Honey in Eastenders) alongside Cook and Line, the pirate duo from CBeebies show Swashbuckle.
British Sign Language Interpreted Performance (Signer: Tony Oliver) – Saturday 17 December, 2pm
Sunday 18th December 2016
Robin Hood The Pantomime – 2pm Assembly rooms Ludlow, 1 Mill St, Ludlow SY8 1AZ
The Box Office is open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday: 01584 878141. £5 child, £8 adult, £22 family. Support companions go free, but still must book in advance. You can also book online, by post or in person.
Monday 19th December 2016
Snow White and Other Tales from the Brothers Grimm – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford OX2 7JN
Cinderella – 12 Noon
Oxford Creation Theatre: The Mill Arts Centre Banbury X16 5QE
Tickets are now on sale but if you have any questions, please call the Box Office on 01865 766266. For those who would benefit from the adapted performance, a special Relaxed Ticket at £10.
Dick Whittington and His Amazing Cat – 1:30pm Chequer Mead Theatre, De La Warr Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 3BS
Starring Really Wild Show presenter Howie Watkins, BBC Sussex and Surrey’s Allison Ferns and Brookside actor Allen Mechen.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE
TV favourite Jorgie Porter* (Hollyoaks, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!) will be making her pantomime debut as she heads up this year’s cast in the title role of Snow White! Jorgie will be joined by Radio City 96.7 Breakfast Show’s Leanne Campbell (a much-loved member of the Empire panto family, now in her fourth year) as the Wicked Queen, and back by popular demand is Liam Mellor as the lovable comic, Muddles
The theatre does not have its own parking facilities but Liverpool boasts many city centre car parks with reasonable rates and many are within 5 minutes’ walk of the theatre. The closest car parks are located at Mount Pleasant, Lord Nelson Street, Queen Square and at St John’s Shopping Centre on Lime Street. St. John’s Car Park offers discounted parking of £2.00 for patrons visiting the Liverpool Empire after 6.00pm and leaving before midnight (car park ticket must be validated in the theatre foyer).
0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge)
Wednesday 28th December 2016
Sleeping Beauty – 17:00
Sunderland Empire. High Street West, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR1 3EX
Vicky Entwistle (Coronation Street, Les Misérables, The Vagina Monologues) is set to reveal a wicked side when she takes on the evil role of Carabosse, alongside actress and ‘Steps’ star Faye Tozer, who is set to sparkle as the Good Fairy and children’s TV favourite Andrew Agnew (CBeebies, Balamory), who returns to Sunderland following his triumphant panto performance in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 2014, in the role of Silly Billy and also as director of this year’s pantomime!
Joining them is Amy-Leigh Hickman as Princess Briar Rose, who is best known for playing Carmen in the popular CBBC series Tracy Beaker, plus spin off series The Dumping Ground and more recently as Linzi Bragg in Eastenders. The line-up is completed by special guest star and legend of radio, screen and stage, Bobby Crush (Opportunity Knocks, Benidorm, The Rocky Horror Show, Chicago) as Nurse Kelly.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 (Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge) Mon-Sat, 9am-10pm. Sun 10am-8pm
Thursday 29th December 2016
Cinderella – 13:30
Bristol Hippodrome Theatre, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol, BS1 4UZ
Torvill & Dean take to the stage as the Fairy Godparents. The classic rags to riches tale Cinderella will be transformed into a breath-taking family extravaganza with glittering sets, gorgeous costumes, big song and dance numbers, real Shetland ponies and jaw-dropping skating sequences.
If you require information about parking for patrons with a disability please call 0117 3023222 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Access Bookings: 0117 3023222
Friday 30th December 2016
Aladdin – 13:00
Opera House Manchester, 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP
Loose Women and Benidorm favourite, and star of the all-new Are You Being Served?, Sherrie Hewson, will be appearing as The Genie of the Ring, opposite one of Manchester’s best-loved actors, John Thomson (Cold Feet) as the evil Abanazar. Pop sensation Ben Adams (A1) will tread the boards as the title role, Aladdin, and to complete the line-up, writer, director and one of the best dames in the business, Eric Potts will star as Widow Twankey!
Jack and the Beanstalk – 1.30pm and 7.15pm Theatre Royal Nottingham, Theatre Square, Nottingham NG1 5ND
This year’s GIANT family-friendly panto adventure stars the legendary comedy-duo The Chuckle Brothers as Paul and Barry Trot, Benidorm’sTony Maudsley as Dame Trot, and The X Factor finalist Chico as Jack, the hero of our tale. This unmissable production carries the Theatre Royal pantomime hallmark of outstanding entertainment for all ages and features laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning costumes and scenery, and amazing special effects as the audience and cast enter the Giant’s castle in spectacular 3D!
Sign Language Interpreted15/12/2016 1:30 pm
Audio Described17/12/2016 2:30 pm
Sign Language Interpreted18/12/2016 1:30 pm
Captioned07/01/2017 2:30 pm
Audio Described08/01/2017 1:30 pm
Sign Language Interpreted13/01/2017 7:15 pm
Call Caroline Pope on 0115 989 5627 for further details and to book. £2 for online bookings or £3 for phone & counter sales applies per transaction.
Thursday 5th January 2017
Jack and the Beanstalk – 10am The Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HQ
There will be an audio described performance and touch tour for the performance on Wednesday 4th January @ 2.00pm and a sign language interpreted performance on Saturday 7th January @ 2pm
For the Relaxed Performance: 01242 695574
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – 19:00
New Victoria Theatre. The Ambassadors, Peacocks Centre. Woking, Surrey, GU21 6GQ
The job of head dwarf Prof is a tall order but nothing that TV and film star Warwick Davis can’t measure up to. Known to millions from his roles in Star Wars, the Harry Potter series and Willow, as well as TV comedy series Life’s Too Short and Idiot Abroad 3, he will ensure that the pantomime won’t be short of laughs this Christmas. Joining him is comedy favourite Andy Ford as the Henchman.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Sleeping Beauty – 13:30
Richmond Theatre, The Green, Richmond. Surrey, TW9 1QJ
Maureen Lipman makes a welcome return to Richmond’s spectacular Panto as the Wicked Fairy. With a catalogue of acting credits for television, stage and film, Maureen is well-known for her roles in films Educating Rita and the award-winning The Pianist. Joining her after two highly successful pantomimes at Richmond will be none other than CBeebies favourite Chris Jarvis in the role of Chester the Jester, returning for a third year in a row, due to overwhelming popular demand.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Returning for the second year running as one half of them awfy Ugly Sisters is Gregor Fisher (Rab C Nesbitt, Naked Video). Gregor’s old chum Tony Roper (Rab C Nesbitt, The Steamie) is back in his squad as a fellow ugly alongside King’s panto favourite Des Clarke (Capital FM) as Buttons. River City’s Gary Lamont stars as Dandini with Elaine MacKenzie Ellis (Rab C Nesbitt, Me Too) as the Fairy Godmother also taking to the ballroom floor. Completing the cast is our Prince Josh Tevendale (Avenue Q) and of course, Cinderella herself, Gillian Ford. It’s gonnae have to be some size of pumpkin carriage for this lot!
Glasgow City Council operates a supervised 24hr, pay-on-foot (credit cards accepted) multi-storey car park behind the theatre in Elmbank Crescent with access via Elmbank St. Parking after 6pm costs £2.50 and this charge entitles you to park until 8am the following day. This car park has spaces reserved for people with disabilities.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Wednesday 11th January 2017
DIck Whittington 11:00
New Wimbledon Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London, SW19 1QG
The Home of London Pantomime is thrilled to announce the strictly sensational Arlene Phillips CBE will make her pantomime debut in this year’s Dick Whittington alongside the return of the side-splittingly hilarious Tim Vine and the best dame in the business, Matthew Kelly.
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677 Calls cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
Box Office on 0115 941 9419 for more details on Relaxed Performances. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding familiarisation visits, wheelchair access and disabled parking, all you need to do is email email@example.com.
JOHN BARROWMAN, STEVE MCFADDEN, THE KRANKIESand MATT SLACK
Captioned: Sunday 8th January 2017 1pm and Wednesday 11th January 7:15pm
Signed: Sunday 15th January 2017 1pm & 5:15pm
Audio Described: Wednesday 18th January 2017 2pm & Saturday 21st January 2017 2:30pm.
No Under 3s
For further information, please contact Liz Leck, Creative Learning Manager, on 0121 689 3064 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, this contact is for information only. Bookings MUST be made through the Ticket Sales number on 0844 338 5000 (Call cost 4.5p per min plus access charge).
I was also told of the following:
Oldham – Coliseum – Sleeping Beauty
Audio Described: Tuesday 13 December, 7.30pm
BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm
Bolton – Octagon Theatre – Cinderella
Audio Described: Friday 2 December 7:00pm
BSL: Friday 9 December 7:00pm
Captioned: Friday 16 December 7:00pm
Manchester – The Lowry – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
BSL: Thursday 15 December, 7.30pm.
Audio Description: Sunday 18 December, 2pm. Free Touch Tour 12.30pm.
Relaxed: Thursday 22 December, 2pm – please book in person or over the phone on 0843 208 6010.
Captioned: Tuesday 10 January, 7.30pm
If you know of any other Relaxed Performance Pantos then please contact me on email@example.com and I can add them in.
Halloween can be an awful time for those with Sensory Processing Disorder – a change of routine and additional stimulation. But it doesn’t have to be such a negative experience as long as you are prepared and have some ideas up your sleeve. Remember the most important thing is to ensure that each individual has the right Sensory Diet for their needs – making sure they get just the right amounts of input for each of the senses – whether that be trying to reduce or stimulate it.
The Sensory Seeker is absolutely loving Ghostbusters currently and he has the new, Year 2 Wave 6 LEGO Dimensions Ghostbusters Story Pack – or the Girl Ghostbusters as he calls it. He is so good at it and best of all this little boy, who I feared may never be able to talk when he was at preschool, was explaining all about the game and the new packs he has at the Family Playstation event we attended last weekend. Not only have games helped him with his communication but in so many other ways including being more socialable. I like to take his interest off the computer as well, and have previously looked at Ghost Crafts. This time I wanted to really have him focused and this is where the idea for Slimer Biscuits came from – just perfect for Halloween.
How to make Slimer Biscuits
I have talked about the Benefits of making Biscuits with Sensory Processing Disorder when we made them as Christmas Gifts . We again used the same all in one method – and The Sensory Seeker felt really confident in himself that he made them “all by himself.” Of course he absolutely loved getting his hands in the bowl with all the lovely textures mixing the ingredients in. He still hasn’t managed to be tempted by licking the butter though! Ingredients for the biscuits: 250g Softenend butter, 140g castor sugar, 1 egg yolk, 300g plain flour (plus extra if it is to sticky and for the surface/rolling pin) and vanilla essence.
Method for biscuits: Mix together ingredients, roll out the mixture, cut into shapes, cook in the oven until golden.
The idea for the Slimer biscuits came from Simpsons Doughnuts. You know the ones which are literally pink with hundreds and thousands on. We had originally wanted to buy plain doughnuts but could not find any. To make Slimer biscuits we simply to the same but needed to make it green.We bought some lemon icing and simply mixed in blue food colouring. Then we spent ages sorting out green hundreds and thousands! Once the biscuits had cooled we spread the icing on the top and added the green sprinkles. The Sensory Seeker then decided he wanted a couple of different coloured stands for the eyes and nose. The boys actually ended up doing some with multi-coloured sprinkles too.Guess what the biscuits didn’t much look like Slimer, and they weren’t difficult to make – but to my little boy they were the BEST biscuits in the World. AND HE had made them!Other Posts of Interest this Halloween: