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
- Miami Childrens Museum , FL
- Wonderscope Children’s Museum of Kansas City
- Kids Zoo U Philadelphia , PA
- Childrens Museum of Houston , TX
- Seattle Childrens Museum , WA
- Childrens Museum of Southeastern ConnecticuttNiantic , CT
- Everett Performing Arts Center , WA
- Nashville Children’s Theatre , TN
- Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
- Benedum CenterPittsburgh , PA
- Columbus Children’s Theatre , OH
- Events on BroadwayNew York
- Hochstein School of Music & DanceRochester , NY
- Shea Center for Performing ArtsWayne , NJ
- Paper Mill PlayhouseMillburn , NJ
- Union County Performing Arts CenterRahway , NJ
- Stages Theatre CompanyHopkins , MN
- Fox Theatre Detroit, MI
- Open Door TheatreActon , MA
- Imagination StageBethesda, MD Peter Pan
- Adventure TheatreRockville, MD
- The Kentucky Center for the Performing ArtsLouisville , KY
- Kirkland Fine Arts CenterDecatur , IL
- Actors’ Playhouse Musical Theatre for Young AudiencesCoral Gables , FL
- Gussman CenterMiami
- Downtown Cabaret TheatreBridgeport , CT
- South Bay Musical TheatreSaratoga , CA
- The Old Globe San Diego , CA
Then finally just things to do at the Library.
- Westborough Public LibraryWestborough, MA
- Bloomfield Public LibraryBloomfield, MI
- Lake Forest Childrens LibraryLake Forest, IL
- Washington Centerville Public LibraryCenterville, OH
- Tulsa LibraryTulsa,OK Article-Urban Libraries Council
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.
- Music Moves MountainsNorman, OK
- The Musical Autist
- Union County Horticulture Program
- Speaking Through Dance
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.