Children of all ages and abilities enjoy exploring beyond their own homes and schools, discovering new things, and experiencing a variety of adventures. In decades past, parents of autistic children were often limited on what they could plan for their sensory-sensitive children because little attention was paid to the volume of noise or music, the brightness or colors of lights used, or how crowded places were. However, in the modern age, many people and businesses are aware of how they contribute to sensory overload and have changed the way they do business or offer sensory-sensitive times for children on the spectrum to feel welcomed. In today’s post, we’ll discuss some of our favorite sensory-friendly outings the whole family can enjoy.
Before we dive right in, it’s important to note that while some ASD children are sensory-sensitive, others may be sensory-seeking, and many places on our list can cater to either or both! Our list is not exhaustive but serves to offer some ideas, check your local listings for ASD-friendly activities in your community.
Designed to engage children of all ages and abilities, your local children’s museum is sure to have a variety of sensory exploration stations full of things to do, see, touch, and feel — perfect for the sensory-seeking kiddo. Additionally, many children’s museums offer low-sensory modifications and/or special hours for children on the spectrum to explore without other children around. Modifications may include wiggle seats, noise-canceling headphones, and weighted lap pads available for check out at check-in. Call your local children’s museum to learn more about what they offer for special needs friends.
A zoo is a wondrous place for people of all ages to see the animals we read about in books and deepen our relationship with nature and the creatures we share our planet with. Since most zoos are outside and human interaction is limited, many children on the spectrum are comforted by visiting the animals that don’t pressure them to respond. Most zoos offer special autism programs and experiences that include small crowds and sensory awareness.
Your local community library offers peace and quiet with a change of environment your child craves. Most libraries have children’s sections separate from the main library that allows children the opportunity to learn and play in peace without being ‘shh’ ’d or disturbing other patrons. Nearly every community library has sensory-friendly activities including storytime, sensory play, and programs that are catered toward special needs children or seek to educate the public about special needs concerns. If your local library does not have a program for autistic children, drop a note in the suggestion box reminding them that grants are available to help!
Nearly every national indoor trampoline and adventure park franchise, including Air Adventure, Jumpin’, Urban Air, Fly High, Sky Zone, Big Air, Altitude, and Rebounderz all offer special hours and events tailored to sensory-sensitive children that include reduced lighting and noise along with limited entry. This allows children on the spectrum to get the trampoline park experience (and much-needed exercise) without being overwhelmed by the regular lights, music, and tons of other bouncing children.
You read that correctly — movie theaters! What has traditionally been sensory overload for people of all ages and sensitivities is now brought to the big screen in a whole new way! Many national theater chains including Regal Cinema, AMC Theaters, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Marcus Theaters/Movie Tavern, Cobb Theaters, and Studio Movie Grill, offer sensory-sensitive movie viewing experiences. These special showings feature the overhead lights on, the volume turned down, and the freedom to move and talk without disturbing traditional guests.
Autism Specific Businesses
As autism awareness increases and parents, educators, and therapists work to normalize ASD and sensory challenges, there is an ever-increasing number of businesses and activity centers designed specifically for autistic children and their families. Check out some of these franchises to see if there are any in your area.
To find specific activities in your area, check out the Certified Autism Center’s list of autism-friendly businesses.
At SkyCare ABA, we partner with local community resources that offer the best experiences to children on the spectrum and their families. Additionally, we work with autistic children at any place on the spectrum to overcome day-to-day challenges to help them reach their full potential. For more information about how we can help, connect with us online today!