As YHA enters its 90th year, during which we expect to welcome a million new and returning guests, we continue to look for ways in which to transform young lives forever through travel and real adventure.
Operating more than 150 youth hostels throughout England and Wales in cities, towns, coastal and National Park locations, social inclusion matters hugely to us and we passionately believe that there should be no barriers to accessing our services.
Yet research has shown that children from lower socio-economic groups, and those with special educational needs and disabilities are less likely to visit the countryside or undertake rural leisure pursuits.
With so much to offer at each of our locations, not forgetting our unparalleled access to the great outdoors, we take a closer look at four of the best activities for autistic children to take part in on their next visit to YHA.
YHA: welcoming families with autism
When it comes to encouraging children with autism and their families to come and stay at YHA, it is important for everyone in the party to know well in advance what they can expect on their arrival.
Not least because, as anyone with a family member with autism will know, everyone is different and we all have our own individual preferences and requirements when it comes to finding the perfect location in which to take a break.
Friendly contact centre and hostel staff
Before you book, you can contact our friendly customer service team who have a huge knowledge of each one of our sites, together with their likely suitability for your individual needs.
Perhaps you need a quiet room, well away from the hustle and bustle of reception? Or you want to know that you can eat together as a family in the restaurant but also cook a separate meal if needed? Our contact centre is open six days a week to help with any questions you might have about bringing your family to stay.
Once you’ve chosen and booked your ideal location, should you then need something extra, such as a photo of your room or more information about our menus, you can check out our detailed website. Another of our greatest assets is our hostel staff. They’ll be able to help you out with any special requests and recommend things to do in the local area.
Our hostels welcome individual travellers alongside diverse groups of visitors and many of our staff team have extensive experience when it comes to accommodating someone with additional needs.
Autism friendly activities for kids at YHA
So what can a young person with autism expect from their next visit to YHA?
Alongside a warm welcome, we actively encourage all our visitors to take full advantage of the local area around each YHA hostel.
Depending on their location, the activities, events and attractions in these areas can vary hugely, from a fast paced, inner city buzz to a more chilled out vibe right by the sea.
Not all of our locations will appeal to everyone with autism but once you have found the hostel that works best for you, you can relax knowing that we will be here for you, year after year.
Four of the best activities to try at YHA for young people with autism
So what are some of the top activities for autistic children
to try out next time you visit a YHA hostel? Here we take a look at four of the
YHA Eden Project in Cornwall offers visitors something completely out of the ordinary with its Snoozeboxes – cosy rooms repurposed from shipping containers.
In keeping with the sustainability ethos of the Eden Project itself, these self-contained units sleep between one and four people and feature two single bunk beds alongside a double, each with individual task lighting and personal storage space.
The Snoozeboxes also come with an en-suite bathroom (some of which have disabled facilities) plus a wall mounted television, which makes them the perfect family retreat at the end of an exciting day exploring the Eden Project and surrounding area.
Families with children with autism in particular will appreciate the self-contained nature of this accommodation, which, whilst light and airy inside, has no windows, offering much more of a sensory shut off from the outside world if needed.
An onsite café and bar complete the offering, meaning you can grab breakfast before you go or come back later to relax over nachos and stone-baked pizzas in the evening.
Residents staying at YHA Eden Project can purchase a ticket to the Eden Project directly from YHA as part of their booking, which gives guests unlimited access to the Eden Project for the duration of their stay. All tickets are discounted annual passes.
With far reaching views out across spectacular Peak District countryside, this is a stunning location for a family break away. And with wheelchair access and 157 beds, there are lots of different room configurations which can suit a variety of needs.
Edale is a year round activity centre which offers a wide range of on and off site activities, ranging from caving and climbing to canoeing. No previous experience is necessary as our experienced instructors will be able to show the ropes…literally!
For families with a taste for adventure, the hostel offers special family packages, including family multi-activity holidays as well as school holiday activities, where participants can sample climbing, abseiling, canoeing, raft building, caving, weaselling, orienteering, archery, high ropes course, hill-walking and much more.
The bravest amongst you might fancy taking up the hostel manager’s suggestion to try an invigorating dip in nearby Hathersage’s open air pool. Open year round, the pool is heated to 28 degrees, so can even be used in winter. Plenty of athletes use it for year-round training and it is also used for local triathlon events.
Back home, alongside self-catering facilities and a great restaurant, the hostel offers free Wi-Fi in social areas as well as a games room – perfect for some quiet time after an exciting day out.
There’s even space to store bikes and of course, a drying room for all your gear if the weather is a little less than kind.
It’s hard to imagine a more stunning coastal location than YHA Treyarnon Bay in Cornwall.
Just 50 metres from the sea with some of the best views of any YHA hostel, YHA Treyarnon Bay lies on the north coast of Cornwall, close to popular destinations such as Padstow and Port Isaac, both of which make for a great day out with lots to explore.
For those not wishing to travel far, you can simply walk down to the beach, which is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during the summer months and is ideal for kids of all ages and abilities.
Spend your time building sandcastles on the beautiful golden sands or wandering round the many rock pools, searching for sea life.
Treyarnon Bay features a giant rock pool that, at low tide, is one of the best examples of a natural outdoor swimming pool. Those preferring shallower waters can easily stay away from the waves and paddle in the many natural pools of warmer water, formed whilst the tide is out.
Bring a wetsuit and body board and you will fit right in as you and the kids scramble over rocks, splash in the sea or just relax on the beach, eating ice cream.
And at the end of the day you can retire to the hostel and watch the sun go down over a chilled beer whilst the kids take full advantage of the free Wi-Fi.
YHA Castleton Losehill Hall is a refurbished Gothic mansion set amongst 27 acres – yes 27! – of parkland, right in the heart of the beautiful Peak District National Park.
With stunning views and picturesque surroundings, this hostel has 36 bedrooms, most of which feature ensuite bathrooms, as well a licensed bar, luxurious social areas (including a cupboard full of games!) plus some lovely homely touches such as a wood burning stove.
But it’s not just the inside of this hostel that has the wow factor. The grounds are absolutely huge and therefore perfect for younger guests who like to let off steam in a safe space and explore the great outdoors.
Whether it’s visiting the farm animals (the friendly chickens are always a big hit with the kids), den building or bug spotting, a walk round YHA Castleton Losehill Hall can reduce anxiety and relax everyone in the family.
And for those wanting to venture further afield, there are numerous lovely walks right on the doorstep.
Like so many of our hostel locations, YHA Castleton Losehill
Hall offers both a self-catering kitchen as well as an all-day restaurant,
where kids under 10 years old can eat for free with every adult meal purchased.
The village of Castleton itself is within easy walking distance of the hostel and is full of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. And, as one visitor recently reported, it has “the most amazing bakery – warm bread and cakes on Sunday morning.”
How to book an autism friendly break away for children
If you are interested in trying out any of the above activities for children with autism, you can book your chosen hostel directly online via our website.
Excellent customer service is a real priority for us and if there is anything we can do to make your stay in one of our hostels with a young person with autism more comfortable, then please just let us know.