In partnership with Visit England and Inclusive Tourism Action Group, we’ve produced an ‘autism guide for tourism’, sharing top tips for tourist venues and other services to improve their customer service for autistic customers. From helpful information venues can give customers in advance of their visit, to offering quiet routes and providing chill out spaces, these small adjustments can make a huge difference. 

Jane tells us what it’s like to visit attractions with her autistic daughter Megan.

“Going anywhere new with Megan can be a challenge. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells make her really anxious. This can cause us problems on a visit so I spend a lot of time preparing her in advance. The best attractions for us are those which have lots of photographs and videos on their website that we can look at together and I often print photos off so that we can take them with us. Sometimes we will do a ‘practice run’ to a venue so that Megan can begin to get used to a place before our actual visit. A few venues have visual stories which explain very simply what she can expect when she visits and the difference having one of these makes is unbelievable.

For me as a parent, being able to find the information I need is important too. Megan gets really distressed if we have to queue so details such as whether tickets can be bought online or whether there is table service in restaurants is really helpful for us. When we get it right it’s as if we are visiting somewhere Megan knows rather than somewhere new, which makes it a far more enjoyable visit for our whole family.”

Daniel Cadey, our Autism Access Development Manager, said:

“We were delighted to have been able to work on this important tourist guide for autistic people and their families.  
“Over 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the UK and many would love to visit heritage sites and other tourist attractions but are prevented from doing so because unfamiliar and unpredictable places make them extremely anxious. Our recent research revealed that 79% of autistic people and 70% of family members feel socially isolated because they are unable to access places others take for granted. 

“But it’s often the smallest changes that business make that have the biggest impact on the lives of autistic people. For instance, by making sure that their staff are aware of and understand hidden conditions like autism, or that there are quieter rooms or spaces for autistic visitors to go to if they're feeling overwhelmed by noise or crowds. 

“We’re so encouraged to see a growing number of businesses trying to become more accessible by adapting their everyday practices. We hope many more will do so, helping us move a little closer to creating a world that works for autistic people and their families.”  

If you work for a tourism venue or business that would find this useful, download the guide now or find out about our Autism Friendly Award.