Well we’ve had a great trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park today. The trip was organised by dadlg (which stands for Durham Area Disability Leisure Group) and as the name suggests they organise trips and leisure activities for children and young people with additional needs. You can find out more about them here –

I was a little apprehensive about the trip for a few reasons; firstly the boys had never travelled on a coach before and I wasn’t sure how Toby would cope travelling for two hours each way with a lot of new people. Secondly we tend to organise days out that completely revolve around Toby and although Ted loves animals, Toby isn’t a big fan and his behaviour can be challenging when he doesn’t want to do something or understand what is going on. And thirdly not having the flexibility of having our own car there and not being able to leave whenever we want to (should Toby not cope) felt a bit daunting.

However I needn’t have worried as the boys both had a lovely time and Toby LOVED being on the coach! He does enjoy travelling and he clapped and flapped happily away to himself as we drove down the motorway. Although he doesn’t speak (so I can’t ask him!) I would say the coach journey was his favourite part of the whole day judging my the look on his face!


Another highlight for Toby was the fantastic indoor play area at Yorkshire Wildlife Park

I would say that we are play area connoisseurs as we visit so many…indoor and outdoor! However I have never been to a play area quite like the Monkey Playhouse…imagine a cross between a soft play center and an outdoor adventure play ground but based around the idea of being in a dark jungle…with real life baboons playing outside the window! We headed straight in to check it out and Toby wanted to get out and explore – which is always a good sign. As it was first thing in the morning and most other people who visit a zoo are there to see the animals the play area was lovely and quiet for Toby to play and explore.  The dark helped too as often Toby struggles with bright lights as they can over stimulate him  – even at home we often sit in the dark on an evening as he goes around turning the lights off! Excuse the poor quality photos…as i said it was pretty dark!

  

Whereas most parents can supervise their children from a distance in a play area, Toby needs one to one attention which literally means crawling around with him for his own safety and the safety of other children. He has no awareness of anymore else and doesn’t get the social etiquette of turn taking or the fact you can’t walk through people and when they’re coming towards you in a narrow space, you need to wait until they pass. Other children often get frustrated with him as although he looks the same age as them his behaviour is very similar to that of a one year old in many ways. He also is easily overwhelmed and can also run off and won’t think to come find us. He also helps himself to other people’s drinks and snacks (as in his head everything is ‘his’) so in short…play areas can be challenging!

We went back later on in the day and it was much busier and for a whole five minutes we lost him! I had shouted Joel from the top of the climbing frame to tell him where we were and turned round and he had completely vanished and finding a child who doesn’t often respond to his name and is wearing ear defenders too isn’t much fun. Eventually (I know it was only five minutes but it felt a lot longer..) Joel found him at the top of the “death slide” (which Toby had made me go down earlier..) and all was well again!

There were other places to play around the park too including an outdoor adventure playground and animals to climb on in my the picnic area.

 The park was clean and modern,  it is also currently being expanded. Although it was fairly busy (to be expected in school holidays) there was lots of space both in the animal enclosures and between them so it didn’t feel too busy. Visitors are able to walk through some of the enclosures too – lemurs, wallabies and squirrel monkeys, which made it quite fun and interactive.

However the highlight has got to be little Teddy’s face when he saw the giraffes! Anyone who knows Ted will know that he’s a big fan and ‘raff’ was one of his first words. He also signs giraffe which Mr Tumble taught him (Justin actually filmed an episode at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.) It was lovely to do something that Ted enjoys as often our days out completely revolve around Toby.

  
 So we’ve had a great day out and are all shattered now – praying Toby sleeps! Thank you to dadlg for organising a fantastic day out and we would highly recommend Yorkshire Wildlife Park for a fun family day out! For more information on Yorkshire Wildlife Park – https://yorkshirewildlifepark.com

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