April is Autism Awareness Month, but for families with children with autism, the challenges are every day. Happily, in Dayton, there are a wealth of programs and resources available for families with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) all year long. Seeing a performance at the theatre, exploring a museum, going to a playground — there are sensory-friendly accommodations in Dayton for a range of needs!
Check out our Guide to Sensory Friendly Programs, Activities and Places in Dayton:
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery’s Sensory Sunday program offers extended hours for local families with a member who has a sensory disorder, such as being on the autism spectrum. During these special hours, the Museum will adjust lighting and sound, have trained volunteers and additional staff, and offer programs that appeal to families who could benefit from a less stimulating atmosphere.
The Dayton Art Institute is committed to reducing barriers and ensuring that the museum is welcoming and accessible to all who walk through its doors.
We offer this art class each season for kids ages 3 – 6 on the Autism Spectrum and their “buddies” (parent or caregiver). Each student will receive individualized attention from an experienced art teacher.
These sensory-friendly performances feature a supportive, judgment-free environment with relaxed theater rules. Adaptations to our sensory-friendly performances include the following:
- Dimmed house lights (30% brightness during the entire performance)
- Lower sound levels
- Elimination of startling special effects and lighting
- Relaxed theater rules—freedom to get up, move around, and come and go as you desire
- Designated quiet areas
- Ushers available throughout the Schuster Center to assist patrons
- Trained and informed dancers, staff, ushers, and other volunteers to ensure a memorable experience for you and your family
These productions are great for all families, especially for children with an autism spectrum disorder, sensory sensitivity, and other special needs. You can expect a reduction of loud or jarring sounds, the absence of flashing or strobe lighting on stage, modification of house lights during the performance, and a judgment-free environment where all patrons are free to vocalize or move around the theatre. At no time will anyone be asked to leave the performance due to vocal reactions, movement, or behaviors related to cognitive/developmental abilities.
Owen’s Place is a universally accessible recreation area, designed to meet a full range of physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs of children and adults with various abilities. It is the inspiration of Trish Gustafson, whose son, Owen, uses a wheelchair. Owen’s Place is located in Victory Park, which is accessible through Rotary Park in Beavercreek. (see a list of other awesome playgrounds in Dayton here!)
The Sensory Dome playground equipment is at Smith Park in New Carlisle. It allows children with different play styles and abilities to play with each other in sensory-sensitive areas.
Kings Island has a Boarding Pass Program which allows guests with mobility restrictions or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to access rides at specified times via the exit ramp in order to avoid crowds and waiting in the regular lines. Guests with a Boarding Pass will obtain a boarding or “ride” time on the pass that is equal to the anticipated wait time for a particular ride from the ride associate at the Alternate Access Entrance (usually a ride’s exit). Guests can then choose to rest comfortably away from the queue area until their boarding time.
The first Thursday of every month, Scene75 offers a Special Needs Day for local families. The program has been developed to help improve social and motor skills, hand and eye coordination, reaction time, and recognition… all in a safe, controlled and FUN environment. Registration is just $10/child ($14.99 for siblings) and can be done here.
Sing songs, read stories, and enjoy a craft or activity. Geared toward children ages 3 through 8 with ASD, but all are welcome. A parent or caregiver must attend.
Resources for Parents
ABC Pediatric Therapy Inc. https://www.abcpediatrictherapy.com/
Applied Behavioral Services http://appliedbehavioralservices.com/locations/dayton
Dayton Autism Society https://autismsocietyofdayton.org/
Dayton Children’s Hospital: https://www.childrensdayton.org/patients-visitors/services/behavioral-health/programs/autism-diagnostic-clinic
Therapy Connections https://www.therapyconnections.net/
Did we miss something? Please let us know so we can add it to the guide! Email the details to [email protected]