It’s a new year, which means new beginnings and routines for you and your family. If you follow along on our social channels, you know we do our best to share plenty of autism and sensory-friendly experiences. As we move in to 2019 and look forward to the next 12 months, we wanted to compile a list of 12 autism and sensory friendly things to do with your family in 2019. This compilation will feature autism-friendly things to do in Chicago and other areas of Illinois, but keep in mind many of the locations hosting these events host similar programs elsewhere.
We hope this list gives you plenty of ideas for fun ways to take the whole family out this year. Make sure to make some time in your calendar in 2019 for recreational, educational and fun activities.
1. Catch a sensory-friendly performance
Many theatres host sensory-friendly versions of their usual performances. For example, the Chicago Children’s Theatre hosts multi-sensory shows every so often. It actually happens to be running in both january and February. You can learn more on their website: here. This month’s show is called called “X-Marks the Spot: An X-Tra Sensory Xperience.”
2. Visit a Museum
Many of the museums in Chicago and surrounding areas have sensory friendly or multisensory experiences and exhibits on display throughout the year. Others are naturally sensory friendly with dim lighting, plenty of quiet spaces and exhibits meant to be experienced with a variety of the senses. Some of your options include the DuPage Children’s Museum, Chicago Children’s Museum and even the Art Institute. Visit the Dupage Children’s Museum website here to learn more about their special programming. The Chicago Children’s museum website is here and The Art Institute here.
3. Watch a movie
This one may seem pretty self explanatory, however, not all movie experiences are created equal. Studio Movie Grill provides “Special Needs Screenings” that are autism and sensory-friendly! Check out their website here for more information. The showings are family friendly and autism friendly, so it’s guaranteed to be a great outing.
5. Jump around
Pump-It-Up locations around Illinois offer “Sensory Jump Nights” for children on the spectrum and their families. This one is great for families looking to burn some energy and keep active while having fun in a safe and controlled environment. Learn more and plan your visit on their website here.
6. Head to the Zoo
Did you know Lincoln Park zoo offers sensory friendly and special needs accommodations? With trained staff and a slew of other accessibility options, Lincoln Park Zoo is the perfect option for a family experience that is guaranteed to be unforgettable. Find out more here.
7. Take a walk in Nature
The Morton Arboretum is an outdoor institution where patrons can enjoy the outdoors across a variety of paths. This is perfect for those warmer months when you and your family want to get out of the house and into the fresh air. Learn more about the Morton Arboretum here.
8. Take a swim at the JCC
The Rogers Park and Northbrook locations of the JCC each offer their own adaptive swim lessons and experiences for children on the spectrum and other special needs. Their trained staff is more than happy to make your water experiences enjoyable for the whole family. Visit the JCC’s website here to find the nearest location, and be sure to give them a call to learn more about their adaptive swim options.
9. Take a walk for the cause
Autism Speaks hosts a yearly walk in beautiful downtown Chicago to raise money for autism research, awareness and acceptance. 2019’s walk is in June. Enjoy the weather and take a walk for the cause here. Make sure to bring the whole family!
10. Make your day “Airtastic”
Aurora’s own Airtastic playland offers “Music Free Mondays” for families looking for a quieter playspace. This is another great one for burning energy and a great opportunity for your child to practice playing with their peers in a safe and controlled area. Learn more and plan your trip here.
11. See the Blue Man Group
These performers are guaranteed to be a great time for any family. This is especially true when they put on an autism-friendly performance. See this multi-sensory experience whenever you get the chance, it’s an unforgettable memory waiting to happen. Find dates and tickets right here.
12. Head to LegoLand
LegoLand’s location in Schaumburg offers “Play Well Days,” a sensory-friendly LEGO® experience on the first Saturday of every month between 8:30am – 10:00am. This one is a ton of fun for the whole family and surrounded by the shops and outlets at the streets of Woodfield. Take a trip one Saturday and let us know what you think. Plan ahead right here.
As you move through 2019 we hope you find plenty of time to enjoy these and the many other great activities available to you and your child on the spectrum. These are just a few of our favorites. Be sure to keep up with our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and stay up to date on our blog for more ideas and resources. If you can’t find one of your family’s favorites on this list, be sure to reach out and let us know your recommendations!