17 Jun 3 Activities in the Chicago Area that Provide Sensory Friendly Environments for Children with Autism
Finding places that provide sensory friendly environments for children with autism can often be a challenge for parents. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability and affects 1 in every 68 children in the United States. While this number is alarming, there is good news for parents who have a child affected by autism; awareness is growing, and business owners are taking steps to provide environments that allow children on the spectrum to participate just like any other child. Dr. Jonathan Kaufman adds, “Such companies are a great way for families to do things together, and not have to worry so much about the sensory needs of their affected child.” Take a look at these three local spots that provide activities for autistic children and their siblings:
Studio Movie Grill Special Needs Screening
Taking an autistic child to a movie can be a very difficult thing to do. The lights are turned down and the volume is exceptionally loud, making it a fearful experience for both the parent and the child. This makes going to the movies almost an impossible thing to do for parents of an autistic child, and can be especially discouraging if you have other children who are not on the spectrum who like going to the movies. Studio Movie Grill saw this need for a sensory friendly movie atmosphere, and they established “SMG Special Needs Screenings”. They provide special movie events where the lights aren’t turned down all the way and the sound is significantly lowered. They also encourage children to get up and move around if they want to, providing an even friendlier atmosphere. On top of it all, admission for special needs children and siblings is free and parents just have to pay a matinee fee!
Sensory Jump Night at Pump It Up Elmhurst
Play places like Pump It Up are seeing a need for sensory conscious environments at their play places, and they are taking action! Pump it Up in Elmhurst is an indoor play place that provides a fantastic area for children to release energy and engage in creative play. The first Tuesday of every month they provide sensory friendly environments by reserving play areas for children on the autism spectrum and their families. This allows for a safe place for kids to jump, slide and get active! They also provide sensory friendly games in a safe and controlled atmosphere. Toss in their gluten-free snacks and you’re ready for a fun night that is budget friendly at $6 a child.
Airtastic Playland’s “Music Free Mondays”
This awesome play land has responded to the need of more quiet play areas for children on the Autism spectrum. They provide “music-free Mondays” where they turn off the music in the play land to eliminate some of the loud noises that bother many children on the spectrum. Loud noises can be painful for people with autism, and they may often respond by covering their ears or reverting to self-soothing behaviors such as wringing their hands or rocking. By eliminating the music element of their play land on Monday nights, Airtastic is providing an environment where many children on the spectrum can play more comfortably with their siblings and peers.
“There are a lot of other resources, both public and private, available to parents, siblings, and children with autism,” says Dr. Kaufman. As a pediatrician, he has worked with families affected with the disorder and goes on to add, “Families should be encouraged to contact their local governmental developmental disability agencies for resources, and referrals for such companies, programs and opportunities available to everyone in the family. Not only to help with concerns about sensory dysfunction for the affected child, but also support and opportunities for their siblings not with the disorder, as well as resources and support groups for parents.”