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'We just love seeing the smiles' - Ipswich bar sees autism-friendly activities grow

Children enjoyed themselves at a spooky halloween themed play event, designed specially  for children with autism  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Children enjoyed themselves at a spooky halloween themed play event, designed specially for children with autism Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

There can be no greater joy than seeing the beaming smiles of children loving life - and youngsters with learning difficulties were enjoying half-term in Ipswich even more this week as an Ipswich bar's autism-friendly activities got better and better.

Ruby in her Mexican-themed outfit  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNRuby in her Mexican-themed outfit Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Waterfront bar Wiff Waff decided to hold regular events after noticing a limited range of things to do for children with autism and their families.

Many school holiday activities are not suitable for those children, so bar manager Malcolm Watkins and his wife Emma-Jayne decided to create free events where they could play without fear of being misunderstood.

Children enjoyed themselves at a spooky halloween themed play event, designed specially  for children with autism  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren enjoyed themselves at a spooky halloween themed play event, designed specially for children with autism Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Alaynor and Cian in their fancy dress  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlaynor and Cian in their fancy dress Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Wiff Waff's previous Disney and superheroes events have been great successes, leading a donation of £700 from the Black Shuck Motorcycle Club to help it improve the activities on offer.

Kia-Rose and Amiyah in their haloween costumes   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNKia-Rose and Amiyah in their haloween costumes Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

That meant for Wednesday's Halloween-themed half-term event, Mr and Mrs Watkins were able to buy in new attractions such as glow pads and a messy play area.

The result was an event Mr Watkins described as "the best we've ever had".

Children enjoyed themselves at a spooky halloween themed play event, designed specially  for children with autism  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChildren enjoyed themselves at a spooky halloween themed play event, designed specially for children with autism Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He added: "We just love seeing the smiles on their faces.

"We don't think there are enough places that are solely for learning disabilities and autism. It's about making that comfortable atmosphere so they don't feel like they're being judged.

Lily trying on hats Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLily trying on hats Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tia having fun in the fancy dress area  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTia having fun in the fancy dress area Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Aiden having fun at the event  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAiden having fun at the event Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

"Some parents may struggle financially and we know some of the autism-friendly events are very expensive. Parents also have the chance to get together and feel like they're not alone."

Wiff Waff is now preparing to hold a similar autism-friendly party at Christmas, which is due to start at 10am on Monday, December 23.

Alaynor enjoyed enjoyed getting her face painted  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNAlaynor enjoyed enjoyed getting her face painted Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

For more information, contact Wiff Waff on 01473 213985.

Tia having fun in the fancy dress area  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTia having fun in the fancy dress area Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Organisers of the event, Malcolm and Emma-Jayne Watkins Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNOrganisers of the event, Malcolm and Emma-Jayne Watkins Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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