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Sep 20th 2018 Back to latest news

Why Farms are Great for Children with Learning Disabilities

We recognise supporting someone with learning disabilities can be challenging, exhausting but most of all rewarding. In order to support their child’s life goals, parents or carers have to contend with a number of different factors, depending on the nature and severity of the disabilities.

It is important to us that part of leading a happy and fulfilled life means offering all individuals the same opportunities.

To be inclusive attractions, of all types, need to be able to support individuals, regardless of the challenges they face.

However, there are advantages to taking children with learning disabilities to Farms, like ours, beyond it being quality time spent on a lovely day out in the Dorset countryside.

deer at sunset farmer palmers

Nurture Through Nature

Being among the animals everyday we can sometimes forget how privileged we are to do what we do.

For our families of visitors seeing, and even feeding, the animals is a rare treat or – for some – an entirely new, and valuable, experience.

For individuals with learning disabilities, interaction with animals can have a positive and lasting impact. By learning about animal nurture they can learn about the importance of nurturing all relationships.

The importance of food, water, exercise cleanliness and affection are universal to all living things. By learning about these needs they can connect with their own needs. Recognising they are important and someone who is worth taking care of.

Talking about the comparisons between humans and animals and what we like and dislike helps to bridge gaps in understanding and help individuals understand the importance of self nurture.

Baby piglets born at Farmer Palmer's Poole Dorset

A Different Setting

For some individuals, a change of setting or routine can cause a degree of distress, especially if that place is unfamiliar and crowded. However for others it’s an exciting opportunity to go somewhere new and explore. If crowding is a source of distress certainly visiting attractions Monday – Friday, in term time is recommended. The attractions tend to be generally more peaceful during the weeks outside of holiday time. The resulting benefit is more one to one interaction with the staff.

Appeal to their sense of adventure by exploring the countryside. This opportunity is as appealing to individuals with learning disabilities as it is to someone without.

Where farms like ours really come into our element is the fact that we offer a great balance. Wide open spaces, animal interaction, activities and shaded places to sit quietly.

There is routine and structure to the animal events, and this is managed (as best you can when working with animals!). Our aim is to not put any pressure on individuals, or carers, but to encourage exploration and lots of fun.

We can also work with families, schools, residential support settings and other organisations. We’ll make sure that anyone with challenges can be supported around the farm and have great day.

Our team are helpful and engaging and will try and assist in anyway to ensure everyone’s day is as enjoyable as possible.

Children meeting guinea pigs with Animal Barn team at Farmer Palmer's

It’s Fun

We want everyone to have as rewarding an experience as possible when they visit us and sometimes that just means having fun.

Seeing the animals, the deer or  going on a tractor ride is as much a part of an individual’s enrichment as learning about the animals that live on the farm. (Please note the bouncy, noisy tractor may be unsuitable for severely disabled visitors or wheelchair users.)

We appreciate this means they want to have just as much fun as any other child visiting an attraction therefore we’ll always do our best to make a great day out.


Here’s what our visitors had to say:

“Went for a visit today with a 5 year old disabled boy. The care and kindness show by the staff was heartwarming. Helping us to give this lovely young man a wonderful experience. Thank you from the bottom of my heart” Facebook Review

“Had a brilliant day at the farm, we’re having a holiday in the area. My 4 yr old daughter has cerebral palsy.  Jen went out of her way to ensure my daughter, who is in a chair and unable to anything for herself, was included in all the pet handling/grooming activities. It was so nice to go to a place that was clearly super inclusive. Thank you. My other two children equally loved it. The pet handling was organised brilliantly! Thanks again.” Facebook Review

“Hello I was in Farmer Palmer’s today supporting a child with severe special needs. I just wanted say that two members of staff were especially lovely and kind to the child. Helping her get involved despite her disability. I was so happy to see how understanding they were.” Email Review

If you support an individual or group with learning disabilities and you’d like to visit Farmer Palmer’s, get in touch today. A member of the team can go over your requirements and our facilities. We will try and make sure we can provide a great time out for everyone.  Contact us here or to learn more about our attractions go here.