After signing our little monkey up to his first ever group this month, and having no idea how it would go and whether it would be something we could attend regularly, I thought I would pop a little post up to sum up how it all went. With his Autism as severe as it is, I have never made use of the Surestart groups or local groups at the library, because I haven’t found them to be accommodating or accepting of his needs. Perhaps it is more my issue than his but still, I hate the way some parents judge children and how children with difficulties or disabilities are not made to feel welcome. Particularly those where their disabilities are not visible, and those children are perceived as naughty or out of control.
The Magical Movers group was held at The Milk Lounge, you may well have read in the media about The Milk Lounge, a new family friendly cafe in Arnold, Nottinghamshire. I’m not going to link the articles but I have read many in the press naming The Milk Lounge as a breastfeeding cafe, making it sound like you have to have a child attached to your chest before being allowed in the door. It was quite clear that the media had portrayed this family friendly cafe in such a light that it sounded as though you would be turned away at the door if seen with formula in your possession, and that they would sing some breast is best mantra together whilst holding hands in a circle. (This was not the case)
To get straight to the point, don’t believe what you read in the paper! We were greeted on our arrival, and asked if we were attending the Magical Movers session, and shown where to store the pushchair and shown upstairs to the group room. We have been twice now and on both occasions we were approached for our feedback of the group we had attended and have been made to feel more welcome than we ever have in any other food/drink establishment. The owner is welcoming and friendly and makes an effort to speak to all of her customers.
The Magical Movers group itself, is a new group for children with social and communication difficulties. They run many other groups locally that seem to be very popular, but this is the first session for children with additional needs. The facilitator really is wonderful and most of her songs contain some signs so that non verbal children can also be included. Our little one doesn’t speak or sign but we still use the signs in song and at home to try and encourage him to use signs. There were all sorts of sensory activities covered in the group, games with feathers, bean bags, singing and dancing. And best of all there is absolutely no pressure on the children to join in or follow the routine of the dance moves etc. We didn’t expect our little man to join in at all as he doesn’t follow instruction or engage well in group situations at all, but to our surprise, the lady had him catching bubbles and feathers and playing with fibre optic lights also.
We were beyond impressed with how relaxed and welcoming the group is, the environment is so calm and we were made to feel like we mattered. This is really something as I can honestly say that we have never been made to feel welcome anywhere else with the little man in tow. The group sizes are small and parents are encouraged to join in, but I promise you it isn’t awkward or silly, I think we probably have as much fun as the children!
If you live in and around the Nottingham area, then I really do recommend giving these groups a go as our experience really is fab. Also, give the Milk Lounge a look aswell as it is great too!