Autistic individuals and their families face far more barriers than others when visiting tourist venues and London is no exception. With its busy streets, sights, sounds, and smells competing for space; London is a sensory overload for autistic tourists. This guide offers advice and links on how to cope and with the challenges facing autistic individuals and their families wanting to visit London.
Having advanced preparation and information can be extremely helpful to autistic individuals as they can prepare themselves for changes before their visit. By informing your autistic family member on the information about the place you are traveling and the challenges that may be facing them. it allows you to manage expectations, reduce anxiety, and assist with planning. Advanced information can be anything from parking to security checks. Other methods of advanced preparation such as accessibility guide, visual tours, or visual stories can be found here.
Travelling throughout London can be super stressful with train delays and tube stations being a sensory overload. However, there are a few things you can do to make these journeys less overwhelming.
- One thing you could try is using apps such as city mapper. The app will plan your route, tell you how much the journey will cost and the times of the upcoming trains for your journey.
- Many of London’s attractions are within walking distance of one and another so when possible avoid taking public transport if its a difficulty that the individual faces. If it is not possible to walk seek other forms of transport such as a bus or an Uber which will be a quieter and more manageable for those with autism.
- Inside tube stations there are help point information machines if you or your family member is struggling looking for staff. TFL (Transport for London) trained and experience staff in working with a range of special needs and disabilities such as autism and will be more than happy to help.
- One struggle that many autistic individuals face is that their disability is invisible and therefore is harder for people to notice. Many autistic individuals have trouble standing on moving transport and therefore need the disabled seats however struggle with social interaction and communication to ask and as they have an invisible disability people do not tend to notice. Therefore carrying a blue badge or a hidden disabilities lanyard and ID card will help people to notice and understand that you require the disabled seats when traveling on transport.
Autistic friendly places to visit
Being autistic doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on fun activities and places to visit. London is an extremely accommodating city with a host of opportunities for families to enjoy such as theatres and museums that are relaxing and friendly for people with neuro-diverse disabilities such as autism. For example, The Lyceum Theatre in London is popular for its relaxed performances of the Lion King. Having collaborated with the National Autistics Society, its staff are well trained and always willing to help. Attractions such as the London Eye is just as accommodating and offer discounted tickets to guests with disabilities. Amongst the friendly places to visit, are cinemas; which now host special screenings for guests with disabilities.
For more information on the best places to visit in London with autistic individuals visit click here
Two useful tools have also been developed that may help you to find more autistic friendly places you may want to visit while in London.
- The first is a map that was created by the London Autism Group which shows locations ranging from advice and support groups to recreation and sports facilities that offer autism-friendly services within London.
- The Second is Euan’s Guide which is a website where you can search for places to visit that meet your needs and requirements for your disability.
I hope that you find the information and the links in the subheadings Advanced preparation, Transport and Autistic friendly places to visit, both useful and helpful in helping to remove the barriers faced by autistic individuals when organising your trip to visit London.
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