Ambitious About Autism Youth Patrons Lucy and Ieuan share their experiences of working with us to make the museum more accessible for autistic and neurodiverse people.

Since 2018 The Postal Museum, Ambitious about Autism and a group of their Youth Patrons have worked together with the aim of making the museum more accessible for autistic and neurodiverse people. We have developed a programme of events, activities and resources and we are currently co-producing a virtual learning programme for autistic children and young people. Here, for the Kids in Museums Takeover Day, Lucy and Ieuan share their experiences.

The Youth Patrons co-deliver Post Early events

Youth Patron Lucy

I am Lucy Godwin, a member of the Ambitious About Autism Health Panel. In this blog, I will discuss my experience of visiting The Postal Museum and the planning sessions where we discussed how we might improve services for autistic people in the museum and online.

Planning online resources

In session 1, we discussed how to make the museum more accessible for autistic and neurodiverse people, including ‘Post Early’ where the mornings are designed for autistic children. Resources and activities can support and enhance their visit. For example, a competition for people with different ability levels such as to design your own stamp or postcard. The winners may receive a certificate. Winners could receive a polaroid photo of themselves holding their certificate to keep as a memento or to display in the museum. The submissions may be shared on social media, the website or in the museum. Activity 3 was the idea of a pre-recorded film including information about the day in the life of a postal worker, the history of postcards and different parts of the Mail Rail train.

A child wearing ear defenders looks at the camara and smiles. He and his family sit on the Mail Rail ready for departure.

A Post Early attendee and his family at Mail Rail

In session 2, we looked at adaptions to the museum following the pandemic, including one-way routes and hand sanitisers. We discussed more activity ideas for the online resources. Activity 2 would use a zoom platform to deliver sessions about specific postal topics. The topics may be to do with the story of the postcard, the history of the stamp or ‘the mail rail’. The sessions may include interactive elements like a quiz, questions and answers, and the use of the chat box. Activity 3 would be to vote on the top three options for the competitions using Menti. Activity 4 would be to talk to the curator who will discuss the postcards and stamps in the collection. Activity 5 would be to decide a creative activity for the next session which may be a quiz, a game or lecture. One idea could be to have an interactive voice recording, delivering the information.

Some of the activities might include exploring the postcards collection in more detail

Visiting The Postal Museum

This helped me to gain an insider, subjective perspective on The Postal Museum experience. Our group walked around the museum to look at the displays. We saw letterboxes, as well as pulleys and slides where children can move their mail in Sorted! The Postal Play Space. There was also a gift shop where I bought a small fidget spinner, the same one in a sensory bag they gave to us at the beginning of the tour. We took a journey on the ‘mail rail’, a short train journey that told us the story of the postal services beneath the streets of London. Another key activity was when I designed my own stamp- my own artistic representation of myself as the queen.

Lucy’s stamp design from Make Your Own Stamp machine

I found the experience educational and informative during different activities. For example, during the virtual scavenger hunt, we noticed how many times a soft toy was placed in different areas of the museum. This helped me become more aware of the environment and of key observations. Furthermore, in ‘Sorted: the postal play space’ there was an indoor play area where children could pretend to be a postal worker in a sensory village. The activity would include sorting and delivering mail, using chutes and trolleys to help with communication, understanding the world and physical development. I found the indoor play area a fun and interactive way to learn.

Youth Patron Ieuan

I’m Ieuan, aged 24, and I have been working with The Postal Museum as an Ambitious Youth Patron for many months. I had the opportunity to attend a Post Early event this month, to support Autistic children, young people and adults to have a positive, enjoyable visit.

I also got to experience the Museum for myself. I had a ride on the Mail Rail, hearing the fascinating history of this service and the people who worked there or benefited from it.

Images capturing the Post Early: Relaxed Mornings at TPM event for autistic and neurodiverse people, on Saturday 14 December 2019.

Mail Rail train is ready to leave the depot

I had a look at the Sorted! Interactive area for children, which looked very fun. I also learned about the history of everything from post boxes to postcards and stamps to sorting offices.

Sorted! The Postal Play Space

I was part of the consultations of how the museum can create new content that can be enjoyed when people visit, as well as from home. This involved planning out competitions that young people could enter, creating videos and audio experiences as well as discussing exhibitions that can be enjoyed by people who are Autistic and non-Autistic alike.

I feel very privileged to get the opportunity to work so closely with the museum, to help them find ways to overcome the barriers that people like me face when trying to access places that others access without issue.

I saw the adaptations that have been brought in off the back of previous conversations such as the satchel of sensory toys, lanyards, ear defenders and communication cards and helped find ways The Postal Museum can become even more inclusive in the future.

I hope I’ll get a chance to attend another Post Early event soon where I can see what new things we’ve managed to achieve through our partnership.

Book your ticket for our next Post Early: Relaxed Mornings event.