Saturday, June 13, 2015

Urban Hiking, A Travel Review

Well, I didn't travel but I have great destinations in my own backyard.  Last Saturday I ventured to the wild side and went on community adventure with Essential Pieces to Norfolk Zoo.  I found Essential pieces while looking for resources for my younger son and found yet another organization that had something to offer both by boys.  Catering to various disabilities to include topics of interest for my twice exceptional son as well as my older son with his more complex needs.  I was so excited to do a field trip with them both.  I didn't even worry about who my plus one adult would be.  I just signed up.  My oldest son's helper was working adjusted schedule that Saturday.  I was not detoured.  It was going to be family fun day!  Papa went with us.  I always have at least two adult for my Tortoise and the Hare.  Three is it's going to be overstimulating or not self paced for my oldest.

So of course I must make this review about accessibility.  The Norfolk Zoo is one of the most disability friendly places that I can think of.

1. There are three possibly four rows of accessible parking.  I don't use my parking placard often but crowded places is when I do use it.  My older son has a lot of sensory issues which could mean that he could have a sensory shutdown in which he sits on the ground in the middle of the parking.  He's a grown man now so all I can do is direct traffic if that happens.  It's better to avoid it happening and park close.

2. Norfolk Zoo offers free admission to individuals with a disability plus one caretaker.  That is pretty welcoming isn't it!?  You don't even have to show any proof for hidden disabilities.  They just trust ya.  I usually pay for my younger son.  He has a disability but he gets his money's worth.  ADHD isn't a problem here.  There is plenty for an active mind to be attentive to.  In fact this is how he learns the best by moving and seeing and on occasion you can touch at the zoo. On top of all that, the way the entrance is set up is really great for kids on the spectrum who don't understand the social custom of standing in line.  Once you are in line there are partisans separating the lines.  I've never had to chase my older son to get him back in line like I do trying to buy ticket at places that use ropes for crowd control.

3.  As soon as you enter THE Zoo (now that isn't biased is it?), your sensory seeker will want to stop for a long while at the fountain to splash.  Last Saturday it was 97 degrees and heat index of 100+ with humidity.  That is typical Norfolk weather.  I think your sensory avoidant child might be tempted to get wet.  Check out the water plaza.  So suit them up before you come and bring a towel and change of clothing.  There are several fountains on either side of the Trail of the Tiger.

4.  There are strollers and wheelchair rentals near the gift shop.  You won mobility gadgets are allowed and long as they aren't child powered.  I tried to bring a trike once and it wasn't allowed because it didn't have a toddler handle for the parent.

5. There are TONS of benches and my oldest has their locations memorized.  There are a lot

SCORES for the day.
Eldest- Tortoise
* played in every fountain there is
* watched the otters (usually doesn't look at the animals)
* walked 3 miles (the usual is 1 mile)
* sat down on the ground maybe three times and only after he walked 2 miles.
* walked away zero times
* stolen fries, just one
* lost shoes zero
* too tired to make it to the goats but I think their habitat was under construction anyway
* he knows the path and didn't need any hand holding
* slow and steady wins the race.  that's right he beat the hare back to the fountains with enough time to coll off in the shade and watch the crowd of children splash.

Youngest- Hare
* saw EVERYTHING including snake house which eldest skipped
* stayed with Papa
* left when it was time to

clearly you see which boy I was with.  I'm sure the younger said lots of clever things to Papa.

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