Autism Friendly Days Out in Dorset

For visitors with autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there are a growing number of attractions and activities in Dorset which offer autism friendly facilities and services.

Some attractions will have quiet spaces or chill out zones where adults and children can go to if they feel overwhelmed or offer early entry when there will be less visitors. Attractions may also have sensory backpacks for children to borrow during their visit, have specific times when lights or sounds are turned down, or have ear defenders for children and adults to borrow for the day.

Dorset Museum and Art Gallery

Everyone experiences the world in different ways and all should have the opportunity to connect with over 250 million years of art, culture and history. Dorset Museum and Art Gallery offers sensory backpacks to engage and calm young visitors, ear defenders for adults and children who like things peaceful and a Calm Space to take time out during your visit.

The Museum and Art Gallery is constantly working to improve their accessibility and are proud to have been awarded Gold at the Dorset Tourism Awards and Silver at the South West Tourism Awards for Accessible and Inclusive Tourism.

Tickets are valid for a year from the date of purchase, with carers getting free entry with a paying adult who is registered as disabled. For registered disabled children under 16 years, both the child and their carer benefits from free entry.

The Tank Museum

The Tank Museum is the largest indoor attraction in Dorset, holding more than 300 armoured vehicles across a hundred years of history, in interactive exhibitions.

To help visitors with autism best enjoy their time at The Tank Museum, there is a dedicated Wellbeing Room, where visitors can take a quiet moment away. There are also sensory backpacks (including ear defenders, bear, and magnifying glass) and communication cards – both can be borrowed free of charge. The Museum can recommend less busy times to visit and runs quiet mornings each season with early opening and all interactives and sounds turned off.

All regular priced tickets include unlimited visits for a year. You can book online to save 10%, and carers go free if you need one to facilitate your visit. 

Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre

Monkey World has always prided itself on its access facilities - from disabled swings, video talks with subtitles, self-guided audio tours, to primate sensory statues.

To help autistic visitors and their families further, the park regularly holds Autism Friendly Days when neurodivergent visitors can access the park an hour early, to avoid the rush at the gates. The park also has sensory trail especially for the day, a welcome email, and dedicated chill out spaces. With this, and over 260 rescued monkeys and apes, and 3 play areas, Monkey World hopes to be a great day out for all.

Autism Friendly Day dates are found at

Tickets booked online get a 10% discount, with tickets available for disabled visitors with or without essential carers.

Brownsea Island

At Brownsea Island, Sensory Backpacks are available to hire. These packs were developed with the support of a charity called Diverse Abilities and SEND in Museums. The packs have been designed to enhance the experience of visitors with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The backpacks have sensory activities and fidget elements that can be useful resources for families and schools on a self-led visit. They have two themes, woodland and beach, with activities using senses to explore nature. The backpacks are free to hire - you can book them by phone 01202 707740 or email

For wheelchair users, The Seahorse landing craft provides access for visitors who may not be able to use the boat passenger service to the island. In particular The Seahorse is used by visitors who use a wheelchair and are unable to navigate the steps on the boat services to and from Poole Quay. This is a pre-bookable service only - you can find out more about accessibility to Brownsea Island on the National Trust website.

Nothe Fort

For families and individuals who require a quieter and calmer environment at Nothe Fort, you can visit during one of the Quiet Hours. During this hour, sound will be switched off in our exhibitions. This hour is suitable for those with sensory needs, but anyone who would prefer to explore in this quiet time is more than welcome. The Quiet Hour includes access to the entirety of the museum currently open to the public.

There is so much to do at the Fort! You can explore the maze of underground tunnels; visit the Victorian Gun Deck; sit on the impressive WW2 gun high up on the Ramparts; discover a secret underground Nuclear Bunker or simply enjoy the stunning 360 degree views of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.

There will be Quiet Hours on the first Sunday of the month from 10am until 11am and on the third Sunday in the month from 3pm until 4pm.

Durlston Country Park

Durlston Country Park is an amazing place for people and wildlife. The team at Durlston want everyone to have a great day out and try to provide the highest level of access possible for all their visitors.

In 2020 Durlston won the Visit England Gold for Accessible and Inclusive Tourism, so if you are planning a visit, take a look at the Access for All webpage on the Durlston website, or get in touch with one of the Park Rangers if you’d like to discuss your requirements.

Their Woodland Explorer backpacks can be hired from the Castle and include fun activities for all the family, along the Woodland Trail. The bags are designed for families with children aged from 4 to 12 and take around 2 hours to complete. They are available to hire for half a day for a small charge and booking is recommended.

To help visitors know what to expect and plan their day out at the Country Park, you can download a visual story for the Park and The Shed - where children and adults can do lots of different things, including woodworking, gardening, and arts and crafts.

Why not book onto one of their accessible events for children and families or stop by the Visitor Centre at Durlston Castle, where a Ranger is always on-hand to offer help and advice.

There is no entry fee to visit Durlston Country Park and Castle, however parking fees apply.

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