Monthly Archives: January 2007

Family Tip of the Month in Samuel’s World – January and February

February’s Tip of the Month

Getting Off to Sleep!!

child sleeping

This is one of Samuel’s major problems – winding down!! After we have gone through his bedtime routine, said goodnight and closed the door, Samuel can still be up 2 hours later doing many vocal tics – whistling is the no 1 at the mo!!

Listening to the Ocean!!

This was the best item I have ever managed to find at a car boot sale near to where I live! It is a small gadget called a Sound Spa made by homedics that plays various relaxing sounds – summer night birdsong, the waves/ocean, tranquill waterfall, rainforest, rain and heartbeat. It has a volume control and a automatic timer switch which means it can be set to play for 15, 30 or 60 minutes, then it turns itself off.

I don’t expect you to go browsing around all your local car boot sales and so I have located the product on the link above which belongs to Homedics – the item is in the Sensory Section – priced around $19 which is approx £9.99.

Every night now Samuel will choose the sound he wants to hear and sets it himself to how long he wants to hear it.

The beauty about this product also is that it has often been thrown across the room when Sam has had one of his rages and it never dents or breaks!!! It take 4 AA batteries and lasts about a month if played most nights.

Sleep is a very important part of our lives – deprived of it for any duration makes us tired and rundown for the next day – for Samuel this leads to more tics and angry moments!

Finding a solution to this stressful time of the day is bliss!

tranquil water

I hope you all had a smashing Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!!

flashing christmas tree

Our Christmas was up and down really, the Christmas tree virtually came down on 2 occasions and we had to resort to putting dumb bells around it to secure it down!! Each day was anxious for Samuel due to all the excitement of the day. The most stressful moment for Samuel would be having to wait his turn in opening his presents!

We also had a sad event happen over Christmas – our 15 year old cat named Flossie died – Samuel and Grace wanted to say goodbye and they did in their own way.

January’s Tip – Worry Box!

worried face

It is a very stressful time when Samuel has to go back to school – having to settle back into the routine of the unknown each day, new teachers, tests etc is worrying. Also having to build new friends/groups does have its anxious moments!!

Samuel has some new tics which have developed recently – one of which is a whistle – this has already caused problems in school, when told to stop, this only makes the matter worse and Samuel comes home more anxious leading to severe tics in the evening.

Often Samuel finds talking about his worries is too difficult – he says his head gets lots of messages inside it and he feels his head is in a knot and it is going to explode.

Drawing or Writing

If Samuel has a worry he will sometimes draw a picture on a piece of paper and hand it to me – these pictures could be as many as 10 in a day depending how worried he was! Grace would also put her worries into the box and either wrote them or drew a picture as well.

We got a box and named it “Our Worry Box” and at the end of each day we would sit down all together and look at all of our worries and try to understand and help solve the worry. Sometimes a worry would be “ what clothes do I wear tomorrow” or “ what day do I go back to school”.

We found as a family that we all can have a worry or problem and I found myself putting in a worry or two into the box!!!! Samuel then was able to understand that he is not the only one who has problems/worries and liked to feel that he could possibly solve one of my worries or even his sister’s worries!

Special Moments

Don’t you just feel sometimes that the day rushes along and there is no time to sit as a family and talk to each other – having this worry box is our special time where we can all help one another and feel special!

image of water scene by

Chessington World of Adventures Review for Special Needs Families

Our family fun day at Chessington, Surrey


Fortunately for us Chessington is not too far to get to, based just outside Epsom in Surrey, the journey by car took 45 minutes.

Booking Process

It is advisable to book your tickets before you get there otherwise you face a very long queue! The main website is fantastic with colourful detailed advice showing you the various attractions/prices and times. We found it best to ring up and book, we could tell the advisor exactly what our circumstances were and they were very helpful.

When we went which was in the summer of 2006 we did arrive just before 10am and there was already a queue for the people who had not booked!!! You have seperate kiosks to go up to if you have pre-booked but be warned you still have to queue for about 20-30 mins!!! Next time we will arrive around 9.30am…..
Samuel was border line and so were our stress levels! Once you have got through the barrier beware of the photographers!!!!, if you have a child who panics when having their picture taken this would really ruin your day! The idea behind it is the hope that you will buy a photo of your beloved thus bringing in more profit for Chessington….Walk on by and ignore!!!!!

Reporting in!

Given directions to Guest Services you are fully welcomed as a family and given carers tags to wear, with the child who has special needs a different colour tag to put on. Samuel felt comfortable and calm. We were given all the information we needed to make our day a stress-free one!

Off we Go!!!


Your are given a map which details exactly where every ride/attraction is – the layout of the site is good with signposts in case you get lost. We found that all the rides were laid out in certain areas very well with all the loud frightening ones away from the more placid ones. Chessington is a good all rounder suitable for all needs – Samuel is not one for the fast rides and does not like speed – we had plenty of slower attractions to go on which were just as fun!!

Special Perks

The one thing that Sam cannot do is queue – its impossible as I am sure you would agree!! A lot of the rides did have a queue and the waiting time was about 30 mins – if you have a special needs child and are wearing the approriate tags then you can go to the exit of each ride and can by-pass the queue completely and can get straight on. We found there was no embarrassment which we were concerned about – the usual stares etc – but because the exit is always quite away from the entrance we were not seen by the crowds!!

Please note that you can only do this if the child with special needs wants to go on the ride, any other person in the group cannot just jump the queue unless they accompany the child.

The best ride for Sam

Tomb Blaster attraction

Has to be the one where you sit in a car a bit like a ghost train but there are no scary parts! You are given a lazer gun each and you slowly go around this cavern shooting at the red lights to see how many bugs you can get!! Even myself and my husband Lester enjoyed this one!!

Dining out or Picnic!!

There is a good choice of food but it is expensive!!! We did take our picnic as there are plenty of quiet places to sit – you can get completely away from the busy rides and visit the animals which is in another part of the place. There are also lots of climbing attractions and soft play bits that the children can go on and you do feel that you can sit and watch without constantly getting up checking that you can still see them!!!!

The Pros and Cons

pros and cons


  • Easy to find and located near to motorway junction turn off.
  • Friendly Guest Services Staff ensuring we were welcomed and reassured of any difficulties.
  • Good Choice of Rides/Attractions to suit all abilities and ages.
  • Plenty of places to have a picnic or to eat in within a quiet or busy environment depending on which you preferred.
  • Fantastic “no queueing policy” for special needs children wanting to go on the rides/attractions making life so much easier.


  • Long queues when entering if you have not booked and still about a 20 min queue for those who have booked!! Not suitable for children who just cannot queue at all for any length of time.
  • There were a lot of foriegn staff working around, most of which did not speak barely any English!!! Not very helpful when trying to ask a question/direction!!!


The management at Chessington should try and change the checking in proceedure to avoid queuing at the entrance for special needs children and their families/carers – even though you can book your tickets on line it does not eliminate queueing!!!

A simple electronic booth to one side would resolve this issue – by booking up before hand a code/voucher could be given a bit like a pin number which you could check in by thus saving time and staffing. The cinemas these days have these so why can they not be installed at these busy venues!!!

If they are going to employ a lot of foreign students on a part time seasonal basis they should contribute as part of their training an English Language Study Basics Course as part of their induction process – this would help the students in our country and our sanity when asking for directions/help!!!

Score out of 10 – would have to be an 8 – a good place for all the family!!!