Keeping a little aspergers boy entertained on a weekend can be challenging to say the least! Like a lot of aspergers boys (and girls) our lad has a fascination with technology and gaming. Anything that doesn’t involve either of these doesn’t really catch his interest so it limits what we can do.
I work long hours during the week – early morning starts and I don’t get through the door till late. I suggested to our 8 year old son that I take him to Manchester at the weekend for a spot of virtual reality gaming as we don’t get to spend as much time together as we should. That idea fell through as typically for me, I left it to the last minute to book and there were only late evening slots available. Not ideal when we live in Leeds.
In a semi-panic, I scoured the web for alternatives and managed to strike gold!
By chance I saw that the annual Power Up Retro Gaming Event was taking place in Manchester this weekend. I hadn’t heard of it before and having been to similar events in the past I wasn’t expecting too much but it was better than nothing and avoided a potential meltdown!
Our son was easily sold. He LOVES retro gaming and jumped at the chance to go. I was a bit nervous about rocking up to a room with 4 consoles and 50 kids all trying to jump on but it was too late by that point.
So we jumped in the car and made the 55 minute journey down the M62 to the Manchester Science and Industry Museum where the Power Up event was being held. We jumped out of the car and headed round the corner to the museum.
When we got to the floor where the event was being held the doors were shut (uh-oh, pulse rising) but were told by the people stood outside the next session was at 1.45pm. It was only 1pm so we had a wait! Our son had no issue voicing his disapproval at this while I paid for the tickets.
To keep him occupied I suggested we go to the Air and Space museum building across the road. Again, not expecting much we bounded through the doors only stopped dead in our tracks as we ran straight into an actual WW2 Avro Shackleton plane – it was huge!
As we walked around the place it was amazing. Planes and helicopters were jam packed into this building and it was fascinating to wander around looking at the history of aviation over the last century. Our son was loving it and had completely forgot about his forced wait for the retro gaming. They even had a Tim Peake VR Space Descent experience! We didn’t get chance to go on this unfortunately but it looked great fun.
It was getting close to 1.45pm so we headed back to the Power Up event only to be greeted by a huge queue now outside the doors (sigh). In typical fashion, our son exclaimed “OH NO – NOT A QUEUE!!” but we needn’t have worried … once the doors were opened we all made our way into the room in less than a minute.
Any thoughts I had about a few gaming consoles and fights between the kids vanished as soon as I walked inside ..
The place was not only huge but had literally dozens upon dozens of consoles available to play on (over 180). Professional lighting and rigging gave it the feel of a big gaming convention.
Our son was in his element and to be honest, so was I.
There was more than enough consoles and computers for everyone to play on. From the modern day, right back to the BBC micro it was all here .. Nintendo Switch, modern gaming PC’s, Xbox One (all models from all years), PS2, Ps3, PS4, Sega Master System, Sega Megadrive, Amiga 500, N64, Nintento Wii, Commodore 64 … the list goes on.
I was over the moon to find an Amstrad CPC 464 there. This was the first computer I ever owned aged 14 and was the reason I work in IT today. It was great to show my son the tapes we used to load the games although he couldn’t work out why we were prepared to wait a whole ten minutes for a game to start .. ??
The organisation of the event is superb. Even though the museum has it’s own cafe, they had a mini cafe in the room selling snacks and drinks. A few bored looking mums sat at the tables whilst their kids ran from game to game.
Being able to literally float from console to console at will and not have to wait for anything was good, particularly as my sons suffers with PDA. He isn’t patient at the best of times and not shy to share his feeling with a room if he feels frustrated. That wasn’t a problem, we had a brilliant time.
Our session lasted for 90 minutes and before we knew it, it was time to go.
Feeling satisfied, our son left willingly and beaming. As is tradition when we go to Manchester, we headed round the corner for some healthy but filling food at Kettlebell Kitchen around the corner in Spinningfields.
If you haven’t sampled a Kettlebell Kitchen yet I highly recommend going there. Good, clean yet extremely tasty food for the diet conscious or those just looking to fill some empty tummies.
If you are looking for something to do – I highly recommend the Power Up event at the Museum of Science and Industry. Unfortunately, the event only runs for two weeks and is coming to a close as I write this. Even so, the museum itself is free admission and a great educational day out regardless.
If you have any ideas for days out – do leave them in the comments below.