Worthing social group for dads to hold special needs, disability and autism-friendly play date

Dad La Soul. L to R: Dan Flanagan, Matt Dumbleton, Michael Wain, Mark Cropley
Dad La Soul. L to R: Dan Flanagan, Matt Dumbleton, Michael Wain, Mark Cropley

A Worthing group that tackles social isolation in dads and children will be hosting its first play date session that is special educational needs, disability and autism friendly on Saturday.

Dan Flanagan, founder of Dad La Soul said: “Our usual play date sessions are friendly organised chaos.

“They’re a bit in your face and could be too much for a child with special educational needs and disabilities.

“This new session will have much softer lighting, less people, more sensory activities and will be much quieter.”

Dan described this new session as a ‘meeting of minds’ between him and Michael Wain, father of a twelve-year-old boy with autism.

Last year, Dan met Michael at an inter-school football match. Their conversation quickly moved onto the lack of activities that are special educational needs and disability/autism friendly.

Michael already ran a Lego club on behalf of an autism charity in Worthing - but still felt more could be done.

He said: “There has never been enough play groups for families with children with SEND.

“These children are in environments which are not always suitable, loud noises, bright lighting, lots of people. “Coupled with the fact that there are never any male friendly groups to go to, both of these can leave it very difficult for a dad,step-dad,grandad or male carer to have that 1-1 bonding with their children.”

Dan and Michael then met up and ‘joined forces’ to create a session that will be suitable for children with special needs/disabilities or autism.

Not only has the session been designed to help the children socialise in a safe environment- it has been made to ensure that the dads feel comfortable and to tackle the social isolation that can come with having a child with special educational needs.

Dan set up Dad La Soul as a ‘safe space for dads, step-dads, male cares, grandads and kids to let off steam, have some banter and ask for help.’

The session is being held on Saturday at the Guild Care Centre at Methold House in Worthing at 11am. Tickets available at www.totrockinbeats.com/event/dad-la-soul-send-autism-friendly-playdate-for-dads-kids.