New resources for autistic children

Along with our new programme of events, the Community Engagement team has been working on developing resources to support visits to the museum. Over the last few months, we have been working on putting together four sensory backpacks, working with a designer to develop picture-based communication cards and producing a new web page and visual story with lots of information about what to expect when you come to visit the National Museum of Scotland.

Sensory backpacks

Sensory backpack
Sensory backpacks like this one can be borrowed from the Tower Entrance at the National Museum of Scotland.

We are excited to offer four new, bright and colourful backpacks filled with sensory resources and toys. They contain a range of items including ear defenders, fidget toys, sunglasses, a cuddly toy and binoculars, to help visitors with additional support needs explore the museum in a fun and positive way. These are now available free of charge from the museum’s Tower Entrance desk and visitors will be given a ‘Museum Explorer’ sticker when they are returned at the end of your visit. Currently these are in a trial stage and we would love to hear any feedback and suggestions.

Communication cards

Communication cards
An example of our communication cards.

Each backpack also contains a set of 20 visual communication cards with pictures of some of the museum’s most popular objects. There are also pictures showing the staff uniforms in order to help you know who to approach with any questions. These are available to download before you come to visit and include locations to help you plan your day and find your way around your galleries. With thousands of objects to choose from it was quite a challenge deciding what to include so let us know if you think there is anything we have missed out. You can find out more about the communication cards and download them here.

Website and visual story

Alongside these resources, we have put together a new web page www.nms.ac.uk/autism. This has more information on our events and resources, including links to download the communication cards and our new pre-visit visual story. This is available in a PDF or as an editable PowerPoint version so you can adapt it for your visit.

A page from the National Museum of Scotland visual story
A page from the National Museum of Scotland visual story.

The visual story has lots of pictures and information about what to expect when you come to visit the National Museum of Scotland from coming through the entrance to exploring the galleries and some of the things you might see and do along the way. It also includes examples of a few calmer spaces and seats which are available if you need a break or a rest.

The website also includes information about preparing for your visit and answers to some frequently asked questions. Please let us know if there is anything else you have been wondering about and would like us to include.

All of these ideas and resources have been developed through research and consultation with visitors and we are really excited to see how they develop as time goes on. If you have any comments or would like to know more about our events and resources, please email Communities.l&P@nms.ac.uk.

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