Winter activities for children with Special Educational Needs | Bolt Burdon Kemp Winter activities for children with Special Educational Needs | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Winter activities for children with Special Educational Needs

Winter can be an especially stressful time for parents and children with special needs, as the bad weather means children are forced to spend time doing indoor activities. Finding activities and venues that cater to children with special needs can be a challenging and daunting task.

This blog aims to provide helpful suggestions for parents with special needs children, and highlight the benefits of each of the events and activities.

To find out about summer activities for children with special educational needs, take a look at the blog written by my colleague, Jessica Nutting.

The Theatre

Multiple theatres across London and the UK put on performances for viewers with special education needs. You can attend “relaxed performances”, where the performance will remove loud noises, strobe lighting and use of pyros. Often the auditorium lighting will remain brighter and doors will remain open, to make going in and out easier.

Some of our clients become overwhelmed when in new social situations. Being able to leave the theatre allows children to have a short break if they’re experiencing sensory overload.

The Churchill Theatre in Bromley is just one example of a theatre putting on accessible performances. In addition, guide, hearing and other working dogs are welcome in all parts of the Churchill Theatre. Check out your local theatre to see if they have relaxed performances.

Visit the Zoo

Many of our clients love visiting, and interacting with, animals. If your child loves animals, the zoo is the perfect place to visit this winter! Visiting a zoo can provide children with the opportunity to explore their senses through sight, smell and sound.

If you’re planning to visit ZSL London or Whipsnade Zoo, but you’re worried about waiting in long queues, then make sure you bring a penguin pass! Penguin passes are designed for those who may struggle to wait in long queues and enable you to hop the queues at the zoo.

ZSL Whipsnade zoo also offers regular early-opening hours on the last Sunday of each month for people with additional needs. This enables to you to wander around the zoo without worrying about crowds or long queues.

The Cinema

In 2009, Picturehouse became the first cinema group to introduce Autism-Friendly screenings. During these screenings, sound levels are turned down, the lights are left on at a low level and there are no trailers or adverts at the beginning of the film. Audience members are welcome to take a break from the screen, make noise and move around as needed.

These screenings are specifically designed to help reduce anxiety and over-stimulation, and aim to provide an enjoyable cinema experience for people with autism, learning difficulties and/or other sensory sensitivities.

In February, Picturehouse are holding Autism-Friendly showings of the film “Minions: The Rise of Gru”.


Museums are a great way to explore or create new interests. While visiting a museum may be daunting, many offer quiet spaces away from the displays if your child needs a break.

If you’re in London, why not visit the Natural History Museum? The Natural History Museum has multiple quiet spaces, all marked on their museum map, with seating. Ear defenders are also available to borrow from the information desk if your child struggles with loud noises or environments.

The Natural History Museum also regularly puts on free events for children with neurodiverse conditions. This January, they’re holding a Dawnosaurs” morning, where you can access the museum between 9-10am, before the hustle and bustle of the general public. If you don’t want to visit in person, they’re also offering an online version. Here, you can take part in online activities from the comfort of your home, at a time that suits you.

Activities from Home

At BBK, we understand that being out and about all day can be challenging for both children with special educational needs, and their parents. Why not spend the day at home doing some arts and crafts?

Many of our clients enjoy painting and drawing, and this can be a great way to develop their sensory and motor skills. Sensory bottles are great for sensory exploration, and they can help to calm children down.

Some of our clients at BBK struggle to express themselves verbally. Arts and crafts enable them to express their thoughts and emotions in a non-verbal way. Painting or colouring could be a great way for your child to express themselves in a non-verbal way.

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