Special communications boards for ASN kids are being installed in playparks across North Ayrshire following one mum's plea.

Emma Tricker, from Irvine, visited a park in Lochwinnoch, in neighbouring Renfrewshire recently with her four year old daughter Emilie-Rose, who is autistic and non verbal.

The park had installed a neurodivergent communications board - and Emma was impressed when Emilie-Rose was able to use the signs.

Emma said: "Our wee girl pointed to the home sign to tell us she wanted to go home. It was amazing.

"Myself and my husband Kenny emailed North Ayrshire council to ask if these boards could get installed in parks across North Ayrshire - and they agreed.

"This just won't make a difference to our family but to our families across North Ayrshire."

The council has confirmed that neurodivergent communications boards will be in place in playparks in Dalry, South Beach in Ardrossan, Winton Circus in Saltcoats, Makerston at Largs, Eglinton Park in Irvine, Stevenston and Arran.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “These communication boards can make a big difference to children with neurodivergent conditions by using visuals and patterns to help them express themselves.

“The boards help to communicate simple messages and are particularly helpful for non-verbal children.

“The council has already installed sensory panels and nest swings, rather than traditional swings, in some of our playparks to enhance the enjoyment of the facilities for all young people.

“We are currently planning on installing neurodivergent communication boards in the coming weeks at playparks in Dalry, Ardrossan, Saltcoats, Largs, Eglinton Park, Stevenston and Arran.

“This proposal aligns with our drive to make our play facilities more inclusive and the list of parks involved could, potentially, be expanded when we hear feedback from families.

“We hope, when these boards are installed, this resident in Irvine and her daughter will continue to enjoy the council’s playpark in their neighbourhood.”

Emma, who is admin of the Three Towns Parent and Kid ASN group, said: "Kenny and I are so grateful.

"We are both just trying to raise enough awareness for ASN kids as their isn't much in our community for them.

"We are currently trying to get the knowledge of how to start a group in Irvine for ASN families and children."

Irvine Times: The big day oot poster

Local groups, including the Three Towns one, ASN Support Ayrshire and Educate Me 2 in Paisley have teamed up for a special ASN day at the Heads of Ayr Farm Park. Reform Scotland members will also be joining the fun.

The Summer Big Day Out will be held on Sunday, August 6, with all kinds of fun events planned including plenty of stalls, food and drink and fun rides.

The kids will also enjoy meeting the park's animals, including alpacas, monkeys, lemurs, meerkats, wallabies, reptiles, giant rabbits and, of course, Ralph the Camel.

Amy Johnston, started the Three Towns ASM support group with her partner Craig Woods in January this year after their son Oliver was diagnosed.

They came up with the idea of the Big Day out.

Amy said: "The main point of the big summer day out is to show that we're all one big community that stick together and show acceptance and inclusion at all times.

"Being able to go somewhere and know that there's going to be many families dealing with the exact same anxiety, stress and issues is super important to parents as we feel less judgement.

"Kids with additional needs need to know that they are not constantly being stared at or being weird because there is no such thing as normal." 

"In 2023 we are really progressing and putting all the right and positive steps in place for a brighter future for children with disabilities.

"Becoming a strong, well educated, supportive community is what really matters as nobody should feel alone, excluded and unable to cope with day to day struggles so many more in the world deal with."

It will cost £11 per person and carers have free entry. Full families are invited, including parents, siblings and grandparents. Bookings must be made by Monday, July 10 and full details are available online.