Sensory Friendly Venues

Kids Zoo U

Homepage image of Kids Zoo U

AMC and the Autism Society have established a partnership to provide movies with special consideration for children who are developmentally disabled, or who are on the Autism Spectrum or who have sensory integration deficits. This special emphasis has been named ‘Sensory Friendly’ and is a fabulous benefit for these children. Now they also can experience a theatre presentation of a recent children’s movie in an environment that accommodates their special sensory needs. The lights are turned up a little, the sound system is turned down a lot, the children are not restricted to watching in silence while they remain sitting in their seats, but can move around and talk during the presentation.

During Christmas and Easter, there are sensory friendly Santas and Easter Bunnys at shopping malls and other special events. These are in less crowded and quieter settings, where the featured benefactor (read ‘Santa’ or ‘Easter Bunny’) has been trained in working with children with sensory deficits. This childhood experience can become a treasured childhood memory long after growing up.

This trend to provide parallel experiences for children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities has been expanding across the United States and Canada. Among the first were in centers of culture such as the Lincoln Centre, Washington DC. Now they have expanded to Broadway, Detroit, Miami, and San Diego.

A brief internet search can bring up a few sensory friendly venues in selected states, but there does not seem to be a comprehensive listing of all the nationwide possibilities for sensory friendly children’s events. Listed below are a few of the more notable selections available on my website Resources Links Page.

Zoos and Museums

Performing Arts (music, dance, and drama)sheatheatre

Then finally just things to do at the Library.

Special efforts by certain Nonprofit groups

are creating unique programs that don’t fall into the regular categories. They combine therapy and the Arts to provide activities and events for children with special needs. A few are listed below.

These special programs will grow when donations increase and sensoryfriendlysantaparticipation in them rises.

For the Sensory Friendly Santa and Sensory Friendly Easter Bunny, you can find these on my Resources Links Holiday Tips page . Be sure to check back closer to the holiday for more current resource links.


About Emily Lauren

Jenny Clark, OTR/L, BCP (AOTA Board Certification in Pediatrics), is a licensed pediatric occupational therapist with over 22 years experience working as a school-based occupational therapist, independent contractor for early intervention services, private practitioner, speaker, consultant, author, and inventor. Jenny currently owns a pediatric therapy private practice, Jenny’s Kids, Inc. Jenny Clark Jenny is the author of the best-selling book on sensory processing entitled Learn to Move, Move to Learn: Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity Themes(AAPC 2004), (Starter Kit available) More recently Ms Clark has written a sequel Learn to Move, Moving Up! Sensorimotor Elementary School Activity Themes (AAPC 2009). In addition, she has published two DVD’s Learn to Move: Dinosaurs (AAPC 2005), a companion to her first book, and Sensory Processing Disorder Kit: Simulations and Solutions for Parents, Teachers, and Therapists (AAPC 2006), which won the 2007 media in excellence video award from Autism Society of America. Jenny’s newest publication is a music CD, Sing, Move, Learn (AAPC 2010), which accompanies the songs in her first book. Ms. Clark is a contributing author for the book Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals (Greenwood Publishing Group 2007), as well as a chapter author for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Foundations, Characteristics, and Effective Strategies. (Pearson Publishing 2011 by Boutot & Myles). Jenny is the inventor of the Patent-Pending “Weigh” Cool Bracelet. Jenny has spoken both nationally and internationally on a variety of topics, including sensory integration/processing. She received her bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy and graduated with distinction from the University of Kansas.
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