Things To Do In Kent With An Autism Friendly Theme

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autism friendly Kent

The holiday season is here, the children are home so a perfect opportunity to venture out.

Well, it should be, but if you are raising a child with autism, it can actually be stressful and exhausting at times. The thought of going out for the day can seem like more trouble than it’s worth.

However, I don’t personally think it’s healthy to be house bound and it is important to buck the trend, challenge the status quo and break from the unhealthy social habits that can come with raising a child with autism. Also, in our case, it’s good for the siblings to enjoy such experiences.

Enough with the rant! I just thought it would be good to give some of our local recommendations in the Kent area for venturing out that can be considered autism friendly.


Food & Dining

  • The Bull, Wrotham –
    • The great thing about this place, it has good food and a private dining room for small parties. You can always eat in the main dining area, but if not, the private dining allows you to enjoy eating out, but with less anxiety because of the privacy offered.
    • Your waiter regularly checks in for drinks and food orders. They have also been very considerate to our needs, when we have explained Mr. Moo’s vocal stimming.
    • Easy escape route if things don’t go to plan or you need a little break, as you have your own exit!
    • Book in advance for private dining area.
  • The Bucks Head, Sevenoaks –
    • Similar to the Bull. It has a secluded part of the pub reserved for small groups that is away from other guests. It also has a lovely garden to escape into if needed.
    • You could combine this with Knole Park for a full day out!
    • Book in advance. I always explain our situation, as I think it’s polite to give advance warning of what to expect.
  • Rose and Crown, Orpington –
    • This has excellent private outdoor dining, as it has HEATED private yurts in the garden and so it is an option all year round. Perfect if you want to get out, but don’t want to stress about other guests.
    • Two options for booking, phone or online.

Walking & Outdoors

  • Knole Park, Sevenoaks –
    • This park is amazing and lots of history associated with it. (A little fact: Beatles filmed Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane there – look out for the old tree struck by lighting and then watch the music videos J).
    • Lots of deer roaming free, which is great. We never try to get too near though.
    • Very large open spaced park with plenty of different trails to get lost on. Be warned, you can get lost and watch out for balls if walking near the golf course. Side note, dogs have to be on a lead, which in our case, is good for Mr. Moo, as he is a little frightened of dogs.
    • It has a coffee shop in the huge English Knole Country House if you are brave enough. Both indoor and outdoor seating area.
    • The only real cost is the car parking (£8 fee for a family).
  • Leeds Castle, Maidstone –
    • This place is great for strolling around and plenty of walking routes to avoid large crowds. Keep an eye out for the black swans (I had never seen one before visiting here). Bits we enjoy with the kids:
      • The Maze in the middle (only do it if you feel comfortable, as you can get lost in there.
      • The Grotto in the middle of the maze.
      • The completely sealed in play zone for the kids. Two zones for young and older children (with trialing adults J).
      • The flower garden in summer.
      • Obligatory ice cream pit stop.
      • Mini-train available for visitors. We tend to use on the return journey when the kids are all a bit tired.
      • Walking along the river, in the direction of the castle (we avoid the castle as it’s pretty quiet inside and maybe pushing things too far for our family – but it is an amazing building).
  • Christmas Tree Farm, Orpington –
    • A lovely little farm with lots of little animals roaming around to feed or just observe. Keep your hands away from the hungry pigs!
    • There is a little eating area at the entrance. We usually find a quiet corner and have never had a real problem.
    • I have seen special needs schools bring children on numerous occasions and so the owners are experienced and understanding. Visit early, if you want to avoid the crowds (don’t forget to wash your hands at the end J)


  • Sevenoaks Leisure Centre –
    • It has three swimming pools (small, medium and large). If you get there early, it can be pretty quiet. Mr. Moo can be quite vocal, but it hasn’t been too much of a problem.
    • For special occasions you can even hire the medium pool. It’s not overly expensive, we hired it for Mr. Moo’s birthday once and I have to say it was brilliant. We could all relax and Mr. Moo had such a lovely time, as being in water is his favorite thing. We had a private room afterwards for some food and a birthday cake.
  • Saint Leonards, East Sussex –
    • It’s a little further away, and just outside Kent (I know), but has a lovely beach and plenty of opportunities for a walk, or a dip in the sea during the summer months. Be wary of the big waves though. We like to enjoy the beach with fish and chips afterwards, stress free, in the car!
  • Night-time drive, Anywhere!
    • Christmas time is a perfect opportunity to get in the car and go searching for the best Christmas tree lights. We just did it two nights ago and everyone enjoyed it. It’s cheap and cheerful, with no need to worry about others. It was great and I have come to the conclusion, some people are bonkers and go to great excess making their house look like Santa’s Grotto. Great! Long may it continue!

Worthy of a mention:

These are just some general ideas that have been tried and tested. Please do add further suggestions if you have any to recommend.

Many thanks,


Co-founder of Treezy


Family On The Hill

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family on the hill

The announcer makes a small acknowledgement to the hundreds of people in attendance at the fireworks display to highlight our presence “hello to the cheapskates on the hill”

Fair comment?

We have a great local fireworks display. I think it sells out every year, the mulled wine is brewing, with beer on tap for the adults, sweet shops for the kids and lots of fantastic bright flashing toys you come to expect at these events. The fireworks are amazing and the bonfire is enormous, what is there not to enjoy?

Looking at it another way, it is a sensory bonanza! Unfortunately, sensory overload for Bojangles. That’s right, due to Bojangles having quite profound autism (for some reason I am trying to avoid the word severe, as it is often in the eyes of the beholder and labels don’t always help, but he does face severe challenges coping with everyday life and requires 24hr care), such an event is almost impossible for our family to attend and certainly to enjoy.

We don’t wish his siblings to avoid such occasions, as they are enjoyable and we want them to be able to participate and enjoy, so one of us takes them to a similar event the week before.

Now, in slight contradiction, it has to be said Bojangles loves fireworks. It appears, almost in the way, Vicki (mum) might enjoy a horror film. Whereby, it’s difficult to watch and scary, but strangely fascinating and enjoyable at the same time. There is pleasure and a mild horror at the same time. Bojangles bounces and flaps his arms in rapid motion and shouts unintelligible noises, with volume set at MAX. We know there is pleasurable excitement there and so we try our very best to find a solution.

However, all the other ingredients mentioned above are simply too much for him to process. So yes, we are the family on the hill and we would love to join you, but unfortunately can’t.

We all have our story and we shouldn’t be so quick to judge at times. Taking time to consider someone else’s view takes time and effort, but ultimately, might lead to a greater reward, understanding!

Also, it has to be said, if people can’t afford it, should we really be passing judgment so casually? The parents have found a solution within their means to please their children. If you don’t like it look the other way.

There isn’t an area designated for people in our situation (we wish there were), so, announcer, see you next year. Sadly, for you, we are not easily deterred! We fight these mini battles everyday. Parents. Autism. Life!

Thanks for reading.


Co-Founder at Treezy

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NEXT UP: Local Recommendations For Places To Visit In Kent

Pumpkin Humble Pie

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pumpkin humble pie

So what could be better than a bit of pumpkin picking with the family. Well, it turns out, quite a lot!

Venturing out to public places with our son with autism (I will affectionately call him Bojangles from the song Mr. Bojangles, as he loves all things musical) and his siblings can always be a challenge. Sometimes you win and sometimes you just want to run and hide.

Our recent visit to a cold, damp field turned out to be a run and hide day (almost). Bojangles was already a little anxious before we left and so we didn’t know what to expect. There were quite a few people there, which probably created a bit of tension in Bojangles and both parents.

Bojangles vocal stimming tends to match the volume of his siblings, in the sense that if the baby or toddler start crying or falling out, he will find a way to match it and then raise it tenfold.

It transpired Bojangles found the whole experience overwhelming and the decibels went through the roof.

Vicki (Mum) decided to go for a walk with Bojangles to calm him down and leave me with the remaining children. The only problem was the route taken, past two big groups. Bojangles proceeded to momentarily screech upon passing the first group and then repeat the noise past the second. This unfortunately, made the whole group jump in shock and left a child near to tears. Mum apologised and swiftly moved on!

It was at this point we decided the best course of action would be to leave, tails between our legs…promptly! So we rustled up the gang and headed off to pay. The intermittent shrieks continued at the makeshift checkout (money box and counter style).

It felt like one big disaster. We shot each other a glance that said ‘maybe we should have stayed at home’. Instead, it turned out fine! The day was rescued by the two absolutely wonderful people at the counter. They immediately got a grasp of the situation, told us not to worry and that there was no need to apologise! Those few nice words made the world ok again, it really made the difference and I saw a little tear in the corner of Mum’s eye. A big ‘thank you’ to the lovely people at Broomfields Farm, Meopham. ( It really made the difference to our day.

Mum took Bojangles to the car for a few minutes to calm down and to shed a tear in private. I was left with money and children, so we enjoyed pumpkin soup, sausage rolls and chocolate cake. They were all delicious. After a while, Mum and Bojangles came into the seating area in the field to share some food and we all went home happy and relieved. We didn’t stay long, as we weren’t brave enough. But hey, we left happy.

The message of the day…

Expect the unexpected.

Know your escape routes.

Consider calling ahead to check it is suitable.

Never underestimate people and the power of kindness.

Never take four kids pumpkin picking, as you end up with six pumpkins (go figure).

Maybe just send dad next time!

At the end of the day, no one was hurt in the making of this story and the siblings were happy and completely oblivious, as only siblings to a brother with autism can be.

Thanks for reading.


Co-Founder of Treezy.