Looking for Fun Things that can be adapted for Kids with Special Needs?
A special needs parent knows how important community resources are to their child’s happiness and health. Dallas is a city that welcomes special needs children and adults with open arms. In recent years, inclusion initiatives seem constant, as adaptive programs in all areas pop up. From accessible playgrounds to sensory-friendly museums, a special needs individual in Dallas can always find a new adventure.
Need some ideas on how to start your family weekend in Dallas?
Start with our list of kids events! From exhibits in the Dallas Arts District to a science-filled afternoon at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science or a safari adventure at the Dallas Zoo, your getaway to Dallas will be filled with new adventures. Don’t miss a trip to the Dallas Farmers Market, where a new children’s playground just broke ground.
I can never emphasize enough, that when taking special needs children to festivals or outings it is always imperative to be prepared for melt downs and what not. It is quite difficult to predict what may set off our children. They may not like the available food options. They not be able to tolerate the weather. Sometimes I feel when I’m preparing to take my children on the outing, that I am actually packing luggage in preparation for a voyage.
Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT)
DCT offers sensory-friendly plays adapted from ongoing general productions, with lights brightened up and sounds reduced. DCT also accommodates children who need a break by providing a “Quiet Room” at each sensory-friendly performance. Schedules and additional activities vary each month
Each quarter, the Dallas Zoo welcomes those with sensory-friendly needs and their families for a “Sensory-Friendly Day”. Sound adjustments, sensory activities, and quiet areas are available.
Go to the Movies
Major theater chains across Dallas are now offering special screening times for audiences with sensory-friendly needs and their families. AMC offers special screenings on the second and fourth Saturday of the month, while Studio Movie Grill provide tickets for children with special needs monthly.
Alamo Drafthouse also holds special screenings for young families and those with sensory-friendly needs on Tuesdays before 2 p.m. and on weekends (schedules vary by location).
Dallas Arts District
A trip to the Dallas Arts District can be fulfilling without overstimulation, and there’s plenty of sensory-friendly options to explore. Both the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) and the Nasher Sculpture Center provide Sensory Days. At the DMA, the museum is opened early on select days for families to enjoy the galleries, art and activities in a calmer environment.
At the Nasher Sculpture Center, a “Quiet Room” is available on the basement level for children who need a break. The center also hosts intimate early evening events geared for children with sensory processing challenges throughout the year.
The State Fair of Texas
is still months away, but as you plan fall travel, keep the State Fair’s Sensory-Friendly Mornings in mind. Modifications around the fair grounds include sound and light adjustments, as well as a guided itinerary for family to use as they explore. Check BigTex.com later this year for a list of 2019 dates.
Crayola Experience Plano
Head north to the Crayola Experience in Plano for Sensory Sundays. This fun, hands-on attraction is great for the entire family and is offered every month on Sundays from 9 to 11 a.m. They host a special morning programming for kids and families looking to experience the attraction adapted just for sensory needs with accommodation’s including, dimmed lights, no music and “Quiet Spaces.” For discounted tickets, use this link to save $9 per visit
What’s happening this September?
September brings some what of a relief from the heat. Well, at least its not 100 plus degrees. The opportunity to enjoy family outings’ with cooler temps. Luckily, in North Texas we have quite a few adaptive playgrounds.
A few noteworthy parks include:
- Hope Park in Frisco is a huge, whimsical playground with both a small kid and a big kid area, so that all ages have activities to enjoy. The park was built to be inclusive and accessible to those with special needs; modifications include a slide that is static-free and safe for children with cochlear implants.
- Casey’s Clubhouse at Dove Park is in Grapevine; it has a pirate theme with misting dolphins, ship wheels to steer and more.
- KidMania at Celebration Park is located in Allen. The park is brightly colored and accessible ramps weave throughout the play space, with interactive features like drums available too.
- Cottonwood Creek Park in Irving is adjacent to the city’s Miracle League adaptive baseball field, and is treehouse themed with multiple adaptive swings.
Recently opened, introducing the Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground
The Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground is an 11,000-square-foot Parks & Recreation amenity located in Cottonwood Park.
- Separate Play areas for ages 2-5 and ages 5-12
- Poured-in-place rubber safety surface
- Four types of swings, including traditional “belt” swings and “tot buckets” as well as high-backed, plastics seats that provide added support, and two-person swings, in which a child and an adult face each other
- Adaptive merry-go-round, in which children can sit in molded plastic seats next to children who are standing
- Double see-saw and a tire swing
- Two “roller slides,” which provide faster movement and more muscle/joint sensation
- Adjacent, accessible, family-style restroom with a drinking fountain
- Sensory Garden
Plano Balloon Festival Sept 20-22
Save the date for the 2019 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, September 20-22 at Plano’s Oak Point Park. 2019 mark’s 40 years of Ballooning in Plano, Texas. Join in the Celebration at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, a spectacular three-day event beginning at 4:00 pm Friday, September 20th at Oak Point Park in Plano. This weekend event offers something for everyone; live music and entertainment, a parachute team exhibition, a kids fun zone, tons of food, merchandise and handmade products, and more than 40 incredible hot air balloons.
Dallas Greek Festival Sept 20-22
The Greek Food Festival of Dallas is hosted by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, supporting outreach, ministries, and youth programs. All Things Hellenic
Don’t miss the Hellenic Culture Center where you can learn more about our Greek heritage and how the contributions made by ancient Greek civilizations continue to impact our lives.
Visit the Children’s Area for all the fun designed especially for kids — sand art & crafts, caricature artists, face painting, and more. The Agora Marketplace also features a number of delights for young Festival-goers.
For more resources, check out Local Resources for Parents of Kids with Special Needs and Parenting a Child with Special Needs outside of School