What’s noisy, confronting and sometimes… umm… not fun at all?
The dreaded play centre! There I said it.
If you have a child with special needs, no doubt you’ll know what I mean. But guess what? I’ve discovered something that every parent with a special needs child, needs to know about preparing for a trip to the play centre.
The last time I decided to put on my “I have it all together face”, I decided to show it off at a play centre. Needless to say, I left feeling a bit sad and stressed.
It wasn’t because I asked for a cappuccino and got a flat white. No it was because of a number of, “out of my comfort zone” situations, that comes with being the mother of special needs five-year old boy.
The comfort I’m talking about is the zone where Mum sits down and chats with other mums over a flat white, cappuccino, tea or whatever, while the kiddies are off having a ball (or throwing the balls!)
What I have learnt, is that it CAN be enjoyable. Using tips from other carers and knowing what to expect, and most importantly, which play centres are most appropriate for my special needs child, can make the difference.
For example, only a couple of “oh my” *palm to forehead* moments – like knowing the whole play centre is watching “that adult” climbing the slide with their daggy undies completely exposed!
Oh and the one where you are running around after your child as he/she is cleaning the other tables, by swiping others chips. Maybe your child also sits right in the walkway at the entrance, stimming and making unusual noises so every child that comes in stops to stare and every parent asks, “is he ok??”
If it’s not that then maybe it’s the full-blown meltdown, either your child with special needs has, or your other child because you find yourself having to leave five minutes after arriving. Please tell me I’m not the only one?!
A play centre that accommodates, understands and treats me and my kiddies like everyone else despite my bent antennas, big red ballroom gown with purple daggys over the top, and one eyeball (yes I feel like an alien at times), can be a positive experience. It would probably be better to call first, and ask questions such as:
- What is their quietest day?
- Do they have a policy that will refund your money if you are only there for 5 minutes?
- Do they have an understanding for your child’s lack of cooperation for leaving socks on?
- Do they have an unused room on the day you plan to visit, which may help you to calm your child rather than leave and have your other child miss out?
Asking these simple questions can mean the difference between a visit to a play centre being a disaster or completely amazing!
And it’s totally worth it because it just may be the place where you witness one of those small steps for child, huge steps for our child kind. In other words one little thing that fills your heart with love and total bliss, the first independent ride down the slide, the first attempt to climb the fort, or something I have witnessed – the absolute joy on Billy’s face because for once he is part of the fun.
For that smile, I would be a daggy undie wearing alien everyday of my life.