Thank you to everyone that read my last ‘Autism Review’ on Kitty Café Birmingham. I am really enjoying writing these reviews and hope that you are enjoying reading them! For the third issue of ‘Autism Review’, I will be reviewing how accessible the Beach/Seaside is for autistic people. Rather than focusing on one particular place as I have done in the previous two reviews, I have chosen to review the seaside in general.
Before your visit:
There is little to no information available about accessibility for anyone when you want to visit the seaside. However, there is some information available on certain websites that can give you a general view of the different types of beaches in each place and some important information that may help you to plan your day.
Some examples of these websites are:
This means that whilst you can plan what you are possibly doing to do during the day, it isn’t clear as to how accessible those activities are going to be.
During your visit:
During the summer months, the seaside can be particularly busy which I personally find really difficult as I don’t like being in crowds of people. If you want to down near the beach then expect this area to be the busiest so I would recommend trying to find alternative routes to the beach that are away from the crowds. I usually prefer to visit the seaside in the spring or autism when it tends to be less crowded.
One of the main activities to take part in at the seaside is to go to the beach. Not every beach will the same as so will be mainly pebbles and others will be sandy beaches. For some autistic people, the feel of sand between their toes and on their skin will be extremely soothing, however for other autistic people this could cause potential sensory overload. Therefore, it is very dependent on the autistic person as to which beach would be the most accessible for them.
In terms of facilities, these are extremely limited on the beach which does mean that the beach may not be the most accessible as everything is away from the beach. I would recommend finding a spot on the beach that is near to one of the routes off the beach, so that if you need any of the facilities you don’t have as far to go.
The variety of food available at the seaside can be quite limited so I would recommend looking into the food options available before you visit and if there isn’t anything that you would like then take your own food to prevent any potential distress from eating unfamiliar foods.
One thing you can find yourself doing a lot at the seaside is queuing. This can be extremely overwhelming if you are autistic, and I would say that this is the least accessible part along with the crowds. This is another reason why I would recommend going earlier or later in the year to hopefully prevent this.
As always with the ‘Autism Review’, I will focus now on how accessible the sensory environment is:
- Sound – the noise levels vary depending on where you are at the seaside. If you are closer to the front then the noise levels are high and can come from several different places at once, including Amusements and Fun Fairs.
- Visuals – on the beach there is little to overstimulate in terms of visuals. However, there are areas of the seaside that do contain lots of bright lights and bright visuals which could easily become overstimulating.
- Smell – there are smells at the seaside that you are unlikely to experience anywhere else. This means that whilst the smells may not cause any sensory overload it is possible that the change and unfamiliarity of the smells could be a challenge.
Overall, whilst I think that far more needs to be written about how accessible the seaside is in general, there are some potential barriers for autistic people visiting there. In order for the visit to be accessible it does require a lot of planning to miss out any potential overstimulation which it is possible to do through research of the area you are going to.
I really hope that you are finding these reviews helpful! If there are any places/events that you would like me to review then please send me a message.