For families of children with special needs, finding fun places to go can be a struggle but Tampa Bay is working to make sure every kid can still join in on the fun.
Loud noises, bright lights, and large crowds can be a nightmare for kids with autism and their families.
Thankfully, many places have recognized the problem and are now offering sensory-friendly options right here in the Tampa Bay area.
Here are 8 sensory-friendly places around our town for children with special needs.
1. Zoo Tampa
A sensory-friendly “Day of Discovery” will be held for kids on the spectrum during Autism Awareness Month on April 14. The park will open early to welcome individuals with autism, their families and others who may benefit from a sensory-friendly experience.
2. Florida Aquarium
The Aquarium’s “Day of Discovery” gives individuals with sensory differences and their families to experience the Aquarium in a way that is just for them before the doors open. Special effects, lights and music will be adapted for those with sensory sensitivity.
LEGOLAND Florida has placed a great emphasis on making their park more autism-friendly, including providing “quiet rooms” for special needs families. LEGOLAND employees also receive bi-annual training from staff at Autism Speaks to educate new hires.
4. Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa
On the last Sunday of every other month, the Glazer Children’s Museum provides special needs families with an opportunity to explore the museum with lights and sounds turned down. Sunshine Sunday also provides families with a number of resources around the community.
5. Great Explorations Children’s Museum in St. Petersburg
Great Connections is another great opportunity for special needs families. On the second Sunday of every month, Great Explorations closes to the public from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., turns down the lights and sounds, and also provides a “cool down” room.
6. We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym
We Rock the Spectrum carries uniquely designed equipment specifically for children with sensory processing disorders. The idea of the gym is for children of all ability levels to be able to play, learn and grow together through an all-inclusive philosophy.
7. Sky Zone
Sky Zone is an indoor trampoline park. Once a month their Tampa location holds a sensory-friendly session with turned off and lights turned down. This is a great place for children to learn fun, new skills in a safe, controlled environment.