A mum from Croydon is speaking out as she seeks better support for autistic kids outside of school.

Neve Knight said that while there are options to keep children entertained and active in Croydon during the day, precious few offer adequate support for SEN kids with specific conditions such as her five-year-old son Brody's autism and ADHD.

"In the school and summer holidays it's peak times with kids, you need things to do with them. And children like my son are more reactive to the noise, the atmosphere, they can't queue, my little boy has no waiting skills whatsoever. He has the potential to out of nowhere lash out and it's not through being nasty or malicious that's just part of his behaviour, he doesn't understand the consequences.

"You can't stay in with a child with autism or ADHD, you have to get those kids out, so then you think, well, where do I go? There's that pressure. I have been driving by the park for example and know that there is too many people even though he wants to go. It becomes stressful and that then takes a toll on our mental health as parents too," Neve said.

"Some of the places that do offer SEN sessions seem to be on at the most ridiculous times. They seem to think that if you have a SEN child we can just put something for 5pm in the evening,for example: that's when we need to do dinner, then bath and bedtime," she added.

The Croydon parent said that several child play centres in Croydon had provided quieter sessions only to cancel them all too frequently.

"When you look at other areas like Surrey, for example, there seems to be a lot of sessions like that when in Croydon there's nothing even though there are so many cases like mine," she said.

"Even if it was one hour session a week, I'll take it. Where these kids don't have to queue, where there isn't any music or announcements, that's accesible to them. Then there wouldn't be as much pressure and judgement on both the kids and us."

Neve, who suggested other parents were in a similar situation to her and her son, is one of thousands of parents caring for autistic children without adequate wider support.

As reported earlier this year, facilities and support for autistic people in the borough is minimal like in many other parts of the country.

The National Autistic Society's Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Research Partnerships Tim Nicholls previously the Croydon Guardian:

"We know from talking to parents that there are real issues with getting the right support for their child, in particular when their child has more complex needs.

"Each child is different and assessments should be based on what the child needs rather than what is available," he pointed out, adding that a "big gap in funding from central government" was exacerbating the issue.

The Croydon Guardian approached a number of children's play centres in Croydon to inquire what support they offered to autistic children and their parents.

Responding to the request, Oxygen Free Jumping said they had recently upped their commitment to ensuring autistic children had a chance to visit a place more suited to their needs.

"We recognise that our facility, given the right adjustments to a session, is an ideal activity for SEN groups. Our timetable includes a session called ‘Peaceful Play’ which is specifically for these user groups – primarily autistic children and young adults – both midweek and at weekends.

"We’ve been working on some significant developments to these sessions since the parks reopened. These developments include Autism Awareness training for our park staff (externally provided), specific playlists played at a lower volume, multiple communication methods for important messages including pictorial signage, designated quiet areas and flexible arrival and finish times. Most of these developments have derived from a consultation we sought with Anna Kennedy OBE (founder of UK Autism Charity Anna Kennedy Online) to ensure we were maximising the opportunities on the sessions suitability and we’re looking forward to working with the charity more in the future," a spokesperson said.

The Oxygen website now lists several options for 'Peaceful Play' sessions specifically labelled as "autism friendly".

Neve hopes to see more positive action like this in the future:

"Kids are often left out. It's unfair, they didn't ask to be born like this and they should be able to enjoy things like other children," she said.