At least 1 in 100 people in the UK have autism, a developmental disability that impacts how a person communicates with others and interacts with the world around them. Many people with autism are sensitive to sensory stimulation, light and noise, for example, and this can make going out and taking part in activities demanding.
Fortunately, for adults and children with autism in London, there is a wide range of public and private institutions that are aware of their needs and look to create autism-friendly experiences. They are the type of experiences individuals with autism can access directly, and ones that people accessing autism services in London, such as those provided by Liaise, can be supported to access.
A trip to the theatre
A trip to the theatre might seem daunting for someone with autism because of the level of noise they might experience, and the light effects needed to put on a show. Theatres such as the Lyceum Theatre and the Globe now hold special events for people with autism, where the house lights remain on, and a more relaxed approach is taken to watching a performance, with people being able to leave when they need to and chill out areas being made available if people need space.
Going to see a film
If the theatre doesn’t interest you, but the movies do, three of the major cinema chains- Odeon, Vue and Cine world – all have special screenings for people with autism. In much the same ways as the theatres have responded, the films are shown with the house lights on, and the sound turned down to make the experience less intense. Check your local listings for when these screenings are available or contact your local cinema.
A day at a museum
Many autism services in London may already take people they support to places like museums, but finding a day and time when there are fewer crowds and less noise can be difficult in a busy city. Thankfully, they can now take advantage of special events that are held at off-peak times and in areas of the museum where there is fewer footfalls. So far, the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, London Transport Museum and the Tower of London offer interactive experiences for those with autism, and more are likely to follow.
Taking a turn on the London Eye
This year, the London Eye changed its colour from blue to pink to recognise World Autism Day, showing its commitment to making the eye accessible for people with autism. If you contact staff before you arrive, they will look to accommodate your needs, and they also offer discounted rates.
Going for a meal
Back in 2016, Islington’s The Gate restaurant was named London’s first autism-friendly restaurant. Only two years later, more and more restaurants are making themselves accessible to people with autism, including high street chains whose staff will accommodate specific needs when asked.