After Bryan being away Friday to Sunday, and then working Monday and Tuesday, we were desperate for some family time. We had therefore booked onto the Autism Northumberland trip to Whitehouse Farm Centre.
Whitehouse Farm Centre has changed so much in recent years. It is, and always has been, a farm, but it also has a wide range of activities on site aimed at children to allow them to run of some steam. This, on paper, makes it a fabulous place for autistic children… but we decided to put all this to the test!
The first thing we did was head to the new park. It had a huge slide, diggers, swings, a roundabout and even a zip line. While it was a huge open space, it was enclosed on all four sides, with a 12 foot gap for entry, so the chances of a child escaping are pretty slim which we were happy to see. Jack isn’t an escapologist but some of his lovely little friends are!
Next, we headed indoors as a chilly wind had picked up and we went PANNING FOR GOLD! Yes, you can do that here! It was a fab little sensory exercise, sifting through sand for Fool’s Gold in a little trough. Bryan was really getting into it, while Jack watched him in awe. We even got one of those crazy pictures of Jack posing as a prospector. His face says it all!
We then went to the Petting Barn, where there was the opportunity to hold all manner of critters, from bunnies and chicks, to creepy crawlers too. Jacks as having none of it though – he wanted to pet a goat. I mean, who wouldn’t? I was worried he would find it distressing, but the little goats were so gentle and just nibbled from his palm. Bryan was not so lucky…. the little black goat kept nibbling his index finger with its little gummy mouth!
When we left the Petting Barn, we spotted Jack’s idea of paradise. A large open area hosted trampolines, an inflatable slide, two little bouncy castle and some jumping pillows! Jack naturally wanted Bryan to go on everything with him. So the boys went off to bounce while I rested for a while, knackered as I was.
Once we were all bounced out, we headed for lunch. It had been pre-arranged that the Autism Northumberland party could use the party room so we weren’t in the noisy chaotic dining hall, and so Bryan queued for food while we headed to the quieter area and got settled with the iPad. This was absolutely wonderful really, as it was too cold to eat outside, and Jack would have found the noisy hall very, very chaotic and wouldn’t have been able to focus. He was so well behaved that, when one of his friends was struggling, he welcomed her over to watch his iPad together, and they even shared all their food. It was lovely to see. They didn’t really talk, which is usually the norm when autistic children socialised, but when they did, it was a laugh a minute. They realised they were both six – Sixie Twins!
After our lovely lunch, it was back to the park for a run around before we all headed home. While we didn’t do anywhere near all the things to do, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and, knowing how Autism Friendly they are, we will definitely be going back.
Massive thanks to our friends at Autism Northumberland for arranging this trip, and for working with the farm centre to improve their facility to accommodate our special little humans!