Toby is six and lives in County Durham with his parents and his little brother Teddy. His mum, Rachel, told us, “Toby loves to climb, especially things he shouldn’t, like the kitchen cupboards! He enjoys playing on his iPad, and being outdoors, but his absolute favourite thing is playing with water. Toby has severe autism and learning difficulties, he’s completely nonverbal, and his behaviour can be pretty challenging, particularly as he struggles to communicate and can get very frustrated. He gets very overwhelmed and stressed when his routine changes, and very little sense of danger, so life takes a lot of planning and preparation!”

“We have been to Centre Parcs a few times now, it’s becoming a family tradition. A few years ago, Toby had a very difficult Christmas, he struggles with change in his routine anyway but with all the presents and family gatherings it was just far too much for him. Normally when he’s overwhelmed we take him out somewhere to keep him occupied, but obviously over Christmas nothing’s open. So the year after, we decided to go to Centre Parcs, that way we knew we would be somewhere relaxing, and he’d be able to go swimming on Christmas Day and do the things he enjoys. Since then, it’s been his favourite place to go.”

“Toby likes the routine of going to Centre Parcs, he feels comfortable there and of course he loves the swimming pool. This time was lovely; the boys loved splashing and playing in the water, and there are really good changing facilities for people with additional needs. Toby also loves the forest, as it’s very dark and quiet because of the trees, and there are no cars on site, so it’s very calming for him. He enjoyed the adventure playground too! It was great as there was enough to keep him occupied without it being overstimulating from a sensory point of view.”

“It’s really nice, because our lives are very much controlled by what Toby can and can’t cope with, so when he’s having a good time, the rest of us have a good time too as there’s no need to worry and we can just relax in the knowledge that he’s safe and happy.”