Sorry for the overused Borat reference*
For our most recent Monthly Madness (*ahem* innovative community participation event, if you're being fancy), we re-entered Iplay Belconnen for some gaming, dodgem cars and, of course, laser tag in the nations best arena.
FTTF group photos are always amazing
It was such a great day! Everyone genuinely enjoyed themselves and we were all EXHAUSTED afterwards. The laser tag was definitely the biggest hit of the day. No surprises there, laser tag is the best.
Party time indeed
The staff at Iplay were legitimately divine. So attentive, organised and instantly responsive to any requests for help or information. Elements like this make such a difference in our group events. Sometimes, reasonable adjustments need to be made to ensure our participants can enjoy the location to their full potential. We require some flexibility or extra's (like retreat spots), and let us assure you, they always get used. Thing's having a beautiful staff member help us get Nicola from her wheelchair to the Dodgem cars (Nicola did the hard yards for this, her core strength is inspirational for real).
They're relatively easy to cater for and make such a huge difference to the happiness and enjoyment of our members, soooooo everywhere should work on it yeah? Not Iplay Belco though! You guys were awesome!
Individuals with Autism may get anxious, stressed and overwhelmed in new, crowded and loud areas. This is a normal response for many humans in such situations, but it can reach debilitating levels much more easily for those on the spectrum. At the same time, it's important to develop (as much as possible) coping strategies to prepare for these anxiety-riddled environments. Being unable to interact in them is seriously limiting in life, and it's something that many of us take for granted.
A great success for us is when our participants not only socially interact at these events, but when they have FUN. There three fundamental aspects that help us sail smoothly. Read of for Forward to the Future must have's for a Great Success, hopefully it will help a little for anyone who has beloved individuals on the spectrum in their lives:
FTTF Must Haves for a Great Success
(in no particular order)
1. Informed, helpful and NICE staff
We've all encountered them. The service staff that make you wait at a counter for 10 minutes while they polish a spoon or, even worse, are just unnecessarily rude (customer service guys). Bad service ruins any experience, and for us, it's a killer. We don't want to be comforting our participants because of some unduly bad encounter, they're supposed to be having a wonderful time.
For group events, great employees are a must. Ask the venue owners in advance for any adjustments you require. If there's any bad vibes from staff members or venue owners prior to the event, don't go through with it. Particularly for special events, it's simply not the time. Speaking of adjustments, don't forget your;
2. Safe Space
A private function room allowed a quiet space for our members to retreat if feeling overwhelmed (and, lets be real, anyone over the age of 18 at Iplay might want a retreat from the always adorable but LOUD children and intermittent beeping). Make sure there's a safe space for people to go, that's isolated from the crowd and noise. The same spot, or another easy to find area can be allocated as a "if you get lost you wandering warriors, please return here". Just in case!
Pro-tip: Keep some water and food on hand if you can, everyone gets hangry sometimes.
3. Wheelchair accessibility
Duh. This isn't just (sometimes badly placed) ramps and lifts. It's also things like making sure the space within is wide enough for a chair to get through without a struggle. Pathways that aren't just uphill, toilets that are easy to reach and so on.
These are pretty simple and really make a huge difference :)
Until next time,