Slot Machine Heaven

Miriam Gwynne by Miriam Gwynne Additional Needs

Miriam Gwynne

Miriam Gwynne

Full time mum and carer for two truly wonderful autistic twins. I love reading, writing, walking, swimming and encouraging others. Don’t struggle a...

One loves soft play, watching lifts, his iPad and loud noise while the other loves playmobil, staying at home, lining up and ordering and peace and quiet.

The combination makes finding places both my children enjoy rather difficult.

Sometimes I get it very wrong, like the time I tried to take them to a museum or the time we attempted the circus. Both were absolute disasters.

Even a trip to ASDA has one escaping to the lifts and the other on the floor in pain at the level of noise and brightness of the lights.

So it was with a little nervousness that I ventured to the local theme park with them one wet afternoon.

I had no intention of even trying the outdoor attractions as neither of them cope at all well with rain or being cold, but I hoped we may get at least half an hour in the family restaurant or the soft play.

It was so bright and loud and busy as I took the children in and I really thought I would be walking right back out. Sometimes life is full of surprises though.

My son, who may have significant learning difficulties but who remembers every place he has ever been, did a bee line for the soft play and his sister and I had to chase him at speed.

There was no point calling his name as he never responds anyway.

We finally caught up with him at the gate to the play area. I thought I had better inform the staff that at 9 my son is completely nonverbal but that he would still be fine to play.

They surprised me by saying it would only be a pound for him to play. I don’t expect my children to get special treatment just because they are disabled but I also am not going to refuse a bargain either!

Now I had the difficult task of finding something to do with my timid, anxious daughter while her brother ran off some of his energy.

We walked around at all the bright and noisy machines full of flashing lights and repetitive tunes. They repelled her as strong as putting two north poles together on a magnet.

I suggested we had some cake and a drink in a quiet area but just then we walked past some slot machines and my daughter stood watching someone play totally mesmerised.

She loved seeing the machine slide in and out, she loved watching how you could time the coin to fall right where you wanted and she was thrilled when the person knocked a few 2 pences into the tray beneath.

I dug in my pocket for a pound coin and exchanged it in a change machine for 50 2 pence pieces.

I suggested she should try having a go. Like everything else she does she took each shot with precision, planning and excitement.

Each coin brought her so much enjoyment as she timed that machine to have it fall right where she wanted and then watched those sliders move in and out knocking coins down to the next level and sliding in and out again.

She jumped with joy at every coin that fell into her tray as she realised she could use that coin again to continue playing.

If I thought she was excited to earn 2p I had no idea what was coming next! The machine did something even I was unaware of: it started churning out tickets as well as coins!

Now this took my daughter’s joy to a whole new level!

I never in my windiest dreams though my daughter would find two pence slot machines so enthralling! She was in slot machine heaven!

For an entire hour I watched as she concentrated so hard on that machine. For the grand total of two pounds she had so much entertainment and so much fun!

She accepted totally when the coins run out and sat excitedly as she counted up her winning tickets.

She loved feeding the machine her tickets and getting a receipt for her amount. I then took her to the collection point and she carefully chose a toy in exchange for all her tickets.

We collected her brother (who I could see playing the whole time my daughter was at the machine) and returned to the car to go home.

I learnt that afternoon that entertaining children does not have to cost a lot of money.

I had taken both of them out on a wet afternoon and only spent three pounds but more importantly I actually found a place where both my children with autism can be happy, entertained and be themselves.

I don’t normally condone gambling but I know we will be back to let my son play and my daughter experience her slot machine heaven again soon.

I have started collecting all my 2 pences already!


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