The Windy City, Chicago, is home to a thriving artistic community., stunning architecture, and world-class attractions. But did you know it’s also home to several sensory and autism-friendly locations for kids? We’ll explore some destinations catering to the unique needs of children with sensory sensitivities and autism spectrum disorders.
These inclusive spaces offer a welcoming environment where kids can learn, play, and grow at their own pace.
Chicago Children’s Museum
Located on Navy Pier, the Chicago Children’s Museum is a fantastic destination for kids of all ages and abilities. The museum offers a variety of sensory-friendly exhibits and programs designed to engage children with Autism and sensory sensitivities. One such exhibit is the Treehouse Trails, an interactive space that encourages imaginative play and exploration while providing a calming environment. The museum also hosts Play for All events specially designed for children with disabilities and their families. These events feature modified exhibits, quiet spaces, and trained staff to ensure a positive experience for all visitors
Brookfield Zoo, situated just outside of Chicago, is a must-visit destination for families with children on the autism spectrum. The zoo has partnered with Autism Speaks to create a sensory-friendly environment that caters to the needs of individuals with Autism. They offer a Zoo Adventure Passport program, which provides visual schedules, social stories, and sensory-friendly maps to help families easily navigate the zoo. Additionally, the zoo has designated quiet areas and sensory break rooms where children can take a break from the bustling environment and regroup.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is a hidden gem in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. This museum focuses on the natural world and offers a variety of sensory-friendly exhibits and programs for children with Autism and sensory sensitivities. The Butterfly Haven exhibit is a particular favorite, featuring a serene, temperature-controlled environment filled with hundreds of free-flying butterflies. The museum also offers a quiet room which provides a quieter, less crowded experience for families with children on the autism spectrum. This room can be used for children that need a sensory break or seek a calm environment during an overwhelming event.
Sensory Garden Playground: Play for All
Located in the suburb of Lisle, the Sensory Garden Playground is a unique, inclusive play space designed specifically for children with disabilities. This innovative playground features a variety of sensory-rich play equipment, such as musical instruments, textured surfaces, and interactive water features. The playground is fully accessible and offers a safe, welcoming environment for children with Autism and sensory sensitivities to explore and enjoy. In addition, they have kindly provided a variety of photographs documenting the park’s features for families to use as they see fit in social stories and visual schedules. The Sensory Garden Playground is a testament to the power of inclusive design and is a must-visit destination for families in the Chicago area.
Skydeck Chicago, located in the iconic Willis Tower (the tallest building in Chicago!), offers a thrilling, sensory-friendly experience for children with Autism and sensory sensitivities. The Skydeck features The Ledge, an outward extension of glass cubes, providing breathtaking views of the city below. Skydeck Chicago offers sensory bypasses to accommodate visitors with sensory sensitivities, through which children and families can take a break from the more stimulating environments. They also provide social stories and visual schedules to help prepare children for their visit.
Chicago is a city that embraces inclusivity and offers a wealth of sensory and autism-friendly locations for kids. From interactive museums to serene nature exhibits and innovative playgrounds, there’s something for every child to enjoy here. Families can create lasting memories by visiting these destinations while supporting their child’s unique needs and abilities. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the sensory-friendly side of Chicago!
Whether you’re visiting sensory-friendly locations in Chicago or exploring the beauty of Illinois, we’re here to support your child’s unique needs and abilities. Contact us today to learn more about how our ABA therapy services can benefit your child and family.