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Disney party for children with autism to be held at Ipswich Waterfront bar

PUBLISHED: 11:31 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:31 27 August 2019

Emma-Jayne and Malcolm Watkins have organsied events for children with autism at Wiff Waff in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Emma-Jayne and Malcolm Watkins have organsied events for children with autism at Wiff Waff in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Children will be able to dress up as everything from Cinderella to Buzz Lightyear as a Disney-themed party is held for children with autism.

Isabelle playing with her slinky at a Wiff Waff autism event earlier in the summer. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIsabelle playing with her slinky at a Wiff Waff autism event earlier in the summer. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Malcolm and Emma-Jayne Watkins have decided to hold regular autism-friendly events at Ipswich Waterfront's Wiff Waff bar - which Mr Watkins manages - because they noticed a lack of suitable events for children with the condition.

Having worked in children's care homes, Mrs Watkins knew the summer holidays posed a huge challenge for parents - because many mainstream activities are not suitable for their children.

Even public areas like the beach are unsuitable, because their children are given funny looks from others who mistakenly think the youngsters are being naughty.

The aim of the autism-friendly events is to give those children a space to play in an accepting, normal environment.

Earlier in the summer holidays Wiff Waff held a superheroes-themed party, where dozens of children came dressed as characters such as Spider-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The latest Disney-themed party will take place on Friday, August 30 between 10am and noon.

"The parents have been saying how amazing it is," Mrs Watkins said at an earlier event.

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"They can come here, have a break and don't have to worry about what their children are doing.

"They could also meet other parents in the same situation.

"In Suffolk, there are no resources for these children.

"For many children with autism, routine is the most important thing. In the holidays, that is all out.

"It's hard for parents and it does get them down."

Mr Watkins added: "We had chatted to lots of different people and realised there are limited events for those people, so we came up with the idea of holding an event for them here.

"It is difficult for them to find activities to take the children and hard for them to find places where they feel comfortable. They get funny looks from other people.

"They can come here and feel they are in an accepting, normal environment.

"A lot of parents have said it's been the first time they've gone to something like that. Here everyone is in the same situation and everyone understands."

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