For parents raising children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), planning fun, family outings isn’t easy. It is scary not knowing how your child may react at certain events and attractions. Be reassured, you have options! More and more family attractions have begun to realize the importance of sensory-safe environments for children on the autism spectrum. The Houston area, for example, has embraced this need and provides families in the special needs’ community a generous selection of autism friendly fun and activities for their little ones.
Get hands-on at the Children’s Museum of Houston
Now, a Certified Autism Center (CAC), the Children’s Museum of Houston is known for its colorful exhibits that spark a love of learning in children. With more than 14 hands-on galleries, the museum offers plenty of fun and learning for the entire family. During your visit, families with children with ASD or sensory processing challenges, can check out weighted lap pads, or sunglasses and ear defenders for over stimulating lights and sounds. The Children’s Museum also has designated quiet rooms throughout.
Make sure to check the calendar for one of the museum’s Sensory Friendly Days, where the museum opens earlier for children with an ASD and sensory processing differences. These events are held all throughout the year and offer fun, enjoyable learning experiences in an accepting environment. Beforehand, the museum staff goes through the museum to turn down lights, limit extra sounds and stop distracting motions. Sensory Friendly Days are a wonderful relief from stimuli and a way to connect with other families.
Explore the galaxy at Space Center Houston
Do you have young astronauts on your hands? The Space Center Houston recently made history as the first space center to become a Certified Autism Center. With more than 400 space artifacts as well as permanent and traveling exhibits, the Space Center has lots to explore! Parents with children with ASD will find the center’s Stellar Explorer Guide very handy when planning a visit. Upon request, Space Center Houston also offers a variety of helpful autism friendly tools including vocabulary cards for low verbal guests, sensory backpacks, and quiet rooms.
This attraction features Sensory Friendly Evenings several times per year with modified lighting, music and sounds effects. Tickets are limited for these exclusive events to allow visitors to enjoy the Space Center in a sensory friendly atmosphere without the fear of large crowds. During these special days, children can take part in special educational activities led by instructors trained in accommodating guests with sensory sensitivities.
Discover new things at Houston Museum of Natural Science
A local favorite, Houston’s Museum of Natural Science is known for its awe-inspiring exhibits and kid friendly environment. From prehistoric exhibits to a hands-on butterfly center, the museum has taken steps to reduce sensory triggers and provide a better experience for families with children with ASD. The museum provides a sensory guide to help parents plan their visit before even stepping foot in the door. Other autism friendly resources include an easy-to-follow app, visual vocabulary cards, and sensory backpacks.
Three times a year, the museum holds Sensory Friendly Events with modified exhibits and venues for children with sensory sensitivities. During these events, HMNS adjusts their exhibits to create a sensory neutral environment. HMNS turns off movement and noise in the animal exhibits and brightens the darker exhibits to help with focus. Some of the museum’s 2D show offerings are also adapted to leave house lights on and volumes reduced.
Learn and play at the We Rock the Spectrum Gym
Gyms and playgrounds are often over stimulating to children with autism. We Rock the Spectrum Gym, in Houston provides a safe place designed to meet the needs of children with autism while also providing them a place to burn off extra energy. The gym is the perfect place for children of all disabilities and ability levels can play and learn together.
What makes this gym unique is their specially designed sensory equipment specifically intended to aid children with sensory processing disorders. The gym boasts ten specialized pieces of equipment including trampolines, swings, zip lines, climbing structures, fine motor arts and crafts areas, and more. This combination creates a place where children can “play with a purpose.”
Study Texas history at George Ranch Historical Park
Are you looking for a fun, yet educational place to take your little cowboys and cowgirls? George Ranch Historical Park is just the place. The park is located just southwest of Houston, on a 20,000acre working ranch. With more than 100 years of Texas history, it features livestock, historic homes, and costumed interpreters. Their goal is to educate people of all ages about Texas history using seasonal programs, historic meals, and special events.
For children on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing issues, the park offers quiet corners throughout along with sensory friendly kits. Noise cancelling headphones and colored glasses are available for check out from the front desk daily. The park offers Sensory Friendly Days where families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as other sensory and developmental challenges can explore the park in a safe, enjoyable manner.
Autism Friendly Events and Attractions are Popping Up Daily We’ve shared just a few of Houston, Texas’ Autism Friendly options. Find more local, autism friendly events and outings for your family, on the BlueSprig Event page of our website or by following us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).