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School’s back – but before you know it, it’ll be the Easter long weekend. And what about those rainy Sundays? We’ve been on the hunt to bring you some great activities around Australia for kids with autism. Many of these are fun with a support worker or the whole family and give you some ideas for play, both at home and away.
Play, visit and watch in Sydney
In Sydney, Taronga Zoo offers early entry for guests and their families, as well as extra animal meet and greets. There are also quiet picnic areas which are marked on the accessibility map. The Zoo has also developed a social story, with Autism Spectrum Australia, so that children with autism know what to expect from a visit.
Another option is the theatre. Monkey Baa offers relaxed performances for children with disability, or sensory and learning challenges. With lights dimmed and doors open, kids are free to relax and make as much noise as they like. If you’re sending a support worker with your child, entrance is free with a Companion Card.
As playgrounds go, Livvi’s Place is one of the best. Set in Timbrell Park, it was built to help kids with autism manage their anxiety. It also has barbecue spots and an onsite café.
Address: Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman NSW 2088
Opening hours: Every day from 9.30 am. – 5.00 pm.
Phone number: (02) 99692777
Address: Terrace 3, 1-25 Harbour Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening hours: Monday – Friday from 9.00 am. – 5.00 pm., Closed on Saturday and Sunday
Phone number: (02) 8624 9341
Address: 19 Henley Marine Dr, Five Dock NSW 2046
Opening hours: Every day 24 hours
Phone number: (02) 9911 6555
Visit the museum in Melbourne
Melbourne Museum is officially the autism-friendly museum. The museum provides social stories for children to prepare them for a visit. It also offers a map of high and low sensory spaces with plenty of quiet outdoor space, and recommends visiting between 3 and 5pm on weekdays to avoid the crowds.
Research has shown significant benefits for children with autism to spend time on a farm or at a zoo. Myuna Farm in south-east Melbourne has been reviewed by parents as a safe environment and welcoming space for children with autism. On offer are pony rides, train rides and the chance to pat lambs, rabbits, guinea pigs and more. There’s also a farm café just metres from the playground.
Address: 11 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC 3053
Opening hours: Every day from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm.
Phone number: (03) 8341 7777
Address: 182 Kidds Rd, Doveton VIC 3177
Opening hours: Every day from 10.00 am – 4.00 pm.
Phone number: (03) 9706 9944
Swim and play in Brisbane
In Brisbane, Hampton Swim School offers a specialised swimming program with children with ASD. The multi-stepped program is designed to make your child feel comfortable in the water, learn to swim and be safe. It also includes a consultation with an occupational therapist to discuss your child’s specific needs.
You can also look for a playgroup with Playgroup Queensland, which caters to all kinds of families including those living with autism. Playgroups are both fun and supportive, and you’ll get to meet other parents.
Hampton Swim School
Address: 67 Pashen St, Morningside QLD 4170
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm., Closed on Sunday
Phone number: (07) 3399 2004
Address: 86 Orchid St, Enoggera QLD 4051
Opening hours: Monday – Friday from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm., Closed on Saturday and Sunday
Phone number: (07) 3855 9600
Kick and view in Adelaide
In Adelaide, Autism SA shares a list of community events which run during school term. Check out ‘Girls Connect’, a social group for girls in Years 1 to 7. There’s also ‘Fun Kick’, a soccer program for kids aged 5-12 run by a soccer coach trained in working with children who have ASD.
Event Cinemas in Arndale and Marion take part in sensory screenings for children with autism, with modified lighting and sound. Upcoming film dates are here.
Address: Mitchell Park Neighbourhood Centre, 1 Cumbria Court, Mitchell Park
Opening hours: Every Wednesday (during school terms) from 3.45 pm – 4.45 pm
Phone number: (08) 8375 6804
Address: Rose Park Primary School & Blackwood Primary School
Phone number: 0423876677 (Further information, please contact Luke)
Say hi to the sheep, cows and horses
Stay at home
For kids who like to move, swinging, trampolines and physio balls are great for jumping, bouncing and generally using up a lot of energy.
Messy play is also very popular, so you can try playdough or papier mâché. You could even make some slime together. Here’s how to make it.
The professionals recommend limited screen time for kids but if you need a bit of downtime and want to try some apps, they can help build a number of skills, ranging from language to social skills, creativity and organisation. If you’d like to see if an app is any good, the Autism Association of Western Australia reviews apps which support evidence-based practice.
Do you have other ideas? Please share them with the Better Caring community on our Facebook page here.