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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Festive forest is autism friendly

 

Scottish Autism has helped make Beecraigs Festive Forest welcoming for those with autism this Christmas

A charity has teamed up with an attraction this Christmas to ensure those with autism can feel festive.

Scottish Autism has partnered with the Beecraigs Festive Forest organisers, Rowan Events, to help deliver maximum festive cheer to autistic people and their families visiting the Christmas-themed attraction in West Lothian.

Beecraigs Country Park has been transformed into a magical Christmas attraction, aimed at creating a magical sensory experience for all the family. Between now and Christmas Eve, visitors can enjoy a 1.5km night time illumination trail in the woodland, traditional Christmas market stalls, Santa’s grotto and many other offerings.

Following requests from a number of families with autistic children, organisers contacted Scottish Autism to seek advice and support on how to make the Festive Forest attractions more welcoming and accessible to autistic people. Scottish Autism’s advisors worked alongside Rowan Events to provide advice and guidance on what adjustments could be made as well as providing training to staff working at the event.

This year’s Festive Forest also features autism accessible sessions where noise and lights have been reduced, staged at less busy times to allow families to enjoy the magic of the forest.

Charlene Tait, deputy chief executive at Scottish Autism, said: “As an organisation committed to enabling autistic people to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives, we are delighted to support Beecraigs Festive Forest. For many autistic people, the sensory aspect of this event will be quite overwhelming, however with some adjustments and preparation in place, autistic people can enjoy this festive forest spectacle along with their families.

“This partnership implemented many of the learnings gained from our recent My Five campaign, where we developed guidance to help retail and hospitality businesses create a more welcoming and accessible environment for their autistic customers.”

Ewen McMartin, director at Rowan Events, said: “Following requests from families with autistic children, we were delighted to work with Scottish Autism to make the Festive Forest attractions more welcoming and accessible. We worked alongside Scottish Autism’s advisors to seek advice and support on what adjustments could be made to the Festive Forest and they provided autism awareness training to our staff working at the event. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Scottish Autism.”

 

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