When you visit Center Parcs you discover that there is a list of activities that you can take part in. On our first visit to Elveden Forest Center Parcs, we noticed that they offered a childcare option. Being that it was our first holiday together as a four we felt guilty thinking about putting Little E in the nursery there. She hadn’t started nursery yet and I didn’t want to upset her. Ethan also hadn’t started school and we weren’t sure if they could offer him the support he needed. At that time we weren’t really comfortable with the whole respite idea. We wanted to enjoy our family break together and booked activities that we could do together. Whilst we were there we did a little research into Center Parcs childcare support for children with autism.
We did discover that they do offer one-to-one support for children with additional needs. You just have to give them enough notice so that they can arrange the staffing levels. So when we booked to stay in May 2016 we booked both Ethan and Little E into a crèche session at the Activity Den. Before I booked the activities online I called the manager of the crèche in advance to arrange Ethan’s one-to-one support. Due to their ages, Little E was booked into a normal crèche session and Ethan was booked into the Woodland Adventurer activity.
On the day I was a little nervous about how it was all going to work and if Ethan would enjoy it. I didn’t need to worry. Ethan didn’t really get involved with the crafting activities, which I wasn’t really expecting, but he loved his time there. His one-to-one was exhausted as Ethan has lots of fun discovering all of the doors in the Activity Den. I was worried that they found him too much to handle but they said they were happy to have him there. They also suggested some activities for him to take part in during our Winter Wonderland weekend.
When it was time to book activities for our Winter Wonderland stay I called the crèche manager again. Between us, we decided to book Ethan into two activities. We booked the Jingle Jolly Party Hour and Elf Academy. We booked Little E into the crèche whilst Ethan took part in the Elf Academy. Whilst he was at the Jingle Jolly Party Hour we were able to book Little E into the Festive Teddy Bears’ Picnic. This was something we had wanted to do with her in May. Sadly we knew it would be too much for Ethan to take part in. I did worry that Ethan would find these activities too much. Thankfully he kept asking about ‘Ethan’s Parties’ on our drive down. He was very excited about the prospect.
Ethan had lots of fun at the Jingle Jolly Party Hour. He didn’t get dressed up for Elf Academy but he did do more of the craft activities this time around.
I’m so glad we looked into the support that Center Parcs could offer our son. We don’t get to have that many child-free moments together. The sad thing is, is that children can only attend the Activity Den until the age of eight. Because of Ethan’s height and age ability, they did say they might be able to work something out in the future. I think that is also because the team know him now. I think it would be a different matter if we visited another Center Parcs. Our next adventure will be working out if they can provide support for him with the older activities.