Local Sensory-Friendly Fall Activities
I spent last weekend with a beautiful-inside-and-out friend who has an incredible story and two fantastic special needs kiddos. Stephanie is the author of a very popular blog about her family’s experiences in the special needs world. But even she, with all her access and resources, still struggles to find local events that are accommodating to children with special needs, including needs that are less visible, like Autism Spectrum Disorder. I think we all agree that it’s critically important for children of all abilities to have a wide range of life experiences. And to all kids, festive holiday celebrations and experiences are second to none.
So piggybacking on some of Stephanie’s research, I did some some research of my own to come up with a list of local(ish) sensory-friendly family activities. However, I ran into many of the same challenges as Stephanie. You’ll notice that many of the events on this list are in Dallas Proper. While I’m thankful for these events, I was hoping to find more options closer to home (Frisco, Plano, McKinney areas). But there just don’t seem to be as many publicized opportunities in Collin County. You’ll also see that only a couple of these options are actual seasonal events (Fall/Halloween, in this case). Therefore, I welcome any reader suggestions of other sensory-friendly events that I wasn’t able to find online or otherwise haven’t heard of. Please let me know about them in the comments!
Boo Bash (It’s a Sensory World, Dallas)
“Boo Bash is our annual Halloween Carnival that is open to the entire community. This event offers families a way to practice the concept of trick-or-treating in a sensory and communication-friendly environment. We provide non-edible and edible treats keeping in mind that some of the participants may have mild to severe food allergies. This event also features carnival games, a costume dance, bounce houses, concessions and our ever popular Boo Bus!” Boo Bash is on October 26 and is a ticketed event.
Sensory Mornings at State Fair of Texas (Dallas)
“The State Fair will host Sensory-Friendly Mornings every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Fair welcomes individuals with autism, in addition to individuals with other intellectual disabilities, their families, and anyone else who may benefit from a sensory-friendly experience. Modifications around the Fair will include sound and light adjustments on the Midway. In addition, the Fair will provide a guided itinerary for families to get the most out of their visit to the annual exposition during Sensory-Friendly Mornings. The Midway opens at noon on Wednesdays, and the usual sights and sounds of the Midway will come on at exactly 1 p.m.”
Sensory Sundays at Crayola Factory (Plano)
“Sensory Sunday! Join us for a special morning designed for kids and families who would like to experience the attraction adapted just for sensory needs. Lights will be dimmed, music will be turned off, quiet room/space, special character appearance.” Sensory Sunday hours are 9-11 a.m.
Special Needs Screenings at Studio Movie Grill (all locations)
“Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered and children are free to move around, talk, or even dance in the aisles during the movie. The sensory friendly screenings are free for children with special needs and their siblings (parental guidance is always suggested). Adult tickets are available at before-noon price. Special Needs Screenings are shown at 11:00am at all SMG locations except EpiCentre.”
AMC Sensory Friendly Films (Frisco)
“AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.” The nearest North Texas location is AMC Stonebriar 24 (Stonebriar Mall).
Jumpstreet (West Plano)
“Jumpstreet with be hosting a semi-private event on the first Saturday of the month for children with special needs.” The private hour is from 9-10 a.m.
Sensory Story Time at Frisco Public Library
“Enjoy a family story time geared toward children who are on the autism spectrum and/or are sensitive to sensory overload. Enjoy books, songs, and sensory activities.” Sensory Story Times are at 11 a.m. every Saturday.
SNAP (Special Needs and Autism-Friendly Programs) Storytime at Plano Public Library
”An interactive, inclusive storytime ideal for children with special needs such as autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration challenges or short attention spans. Activities are designed to stimulate the senses and promote learning - read books, sing songs, move around and have fun!” Ages 3 and up. Wednesdays at 4 p.m. at the Davis branch. Registration is required.
SNAP (Special Needs and Autism-Friendly) Science Explorers at Plano Public Library
”Learning and hands-on science activities geared toward children with special needs, such as autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration challenges or short attention spans. Activities will focus on K-2nd grade level materials.” Dates are October 26, November 23, and December 21 at 1 p.m. at the Haggard branch. Registration is required.
Sensory Days at the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and Dallas Zoo
Each of these institutions offer various Sensory Days throughout the year that cater to children with autism and their families. Please visit the link above to learn more about what these Sensory Days include and when they are scheduled.
I hope your families are able to experience some of these special events this fall and beyond! Fall for ALL!