A guide to kid-friendly activities and events in the suburbs of New York City and Fairfield County, such as Scarsdale, Westchester, Stratford, and Paramus, to help families of children with special needs, including sensory issues, have fun during these inclusive events and activities.
Children with special needs or disabilities can face challenges when it comes to connecting with peers and making friends, especially when many are uncomfortable or not able to participate in certain kid-friendly activities. Here, a list of kid-friendly venues, including the zoo and a bounce house, that dedicate time and space for children with special needs and all abilities to play, have fun, and interact with each other.
Enter a World of Sensory Wonder
WeeZee - The Science of Play, at 480 Bedford Road in Chappaqua, is an 18,000-
square-foot indoor play center and gym for children ages 1-12 that uses sensory integration techniques to help kids grow academically, socially, and physically. The center has games, activities, and fitness equipment that stimulate kids’ sense of touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing, and their sense of self. Attractions include a Rainforest & Storm Zone, a music room with sound studio and karaoke, and a Cyber Action Floor, to name a few. All children can benefit from time spent at WeeZee World, especially those with sensory integration disorders.
WeeZee World is open 8am-9pm daily. It hosts daily classes and activities, offers an after-school program, and is available for birthdays. Membership options range from a six-class pass to a monthly family membership. Visit weezeeworld.com or call 914-752-2100 for more information.
The Autism Society partners with select local theaters to present Sensory-Friendly Films, during which the lights stay up, the sound is turned down, and children with autism and/or sensory issues can feel free to get up and dance, shout, or sing as needed. Participating theaters include AMC Loews Danbury 16 in Connecticut; AMC Loews Galleria Metroplex 16 in Middletown; and AMC Loews Palisades Center 21 in West Nyack. All shows are on Saturdays at 10am, and tickets are typically $6 per person.
Dances for the Disabled
Westchester County Center hosts free holiday-themed dances especially for disabled individuals throughout the year—perfect opportunities for teens or parents to get out for some upbeat fun. Registration is required. Go to countycenter.biz or call 914-347-4409 for more info.
Bounce Time for Special Needs
Many play facilities offer Sensory Bounce sessions or similar programs for children with sensory integration dysfunction, autism, and other disabilities with a sensory component. In the suburbs, these sessions are held at the following locations:
- BounceU locations in Elmsford, NY and Stratford, CT
- Pump It Up in Norwalk, CT
- Bounce! Trampoline Sports in Valley Cottage, NY
Making Friends through Art, Music, Theater, & More
Kids with disabilities can face challenges when it comes to connecting with peers and making friends. With that in mind, the JCC of Mid-Westchester’s Developmental Disabilities Enrichment Services hosts a Sunday/Funday program with an all-inclusive approach, allowing children who have learning disabilities, social or emotional problems, or are on the autism spectrum to join their typically developing peers once a week for a few hours of fun activities.
These activities include sports, computer time, art, music, and theater. There is a session for all ages (groups divided by ability and ages) and a session especially for teens. Kids ages 12 and 13 can participate in Sunday/Funday as a volunteer project for their bar/bat mitzvahs, and high school students can gain community service. All volunteers receive full training by the JCC staff.
For more information on this program, contact director Charley Moskowitz at 914-472-3300 x361 or [email protected]
Open Arms Initative
The Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, CT hosts a monthly Accessibility Day, usually on the second Saturday of the month, when it offers free admission to families who have children with special needs (no registration required).
It’s an opportunity to enjoy the museum’s engaging exhibits, mingle with other families, and learn with your child in a welcoming, ADA-compliant environment. The program is part of the Open Arms Initiative, which targets families who face financial, language, or special needs barriers.
To learn more about how you can experience the museum through Open Arms programs, call 203-899-0606 x299 or email [email protected]
Stroll and Roll on Nature Trails
Get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and nature around you at these national parks in Fairfield, Westchester, and Rockland counties, including parks in Monroe, Nyack, and Yonkers, that have been approved wheelchair accessible by the nonprofit Rails-To-Trails Conservancy.
Our complete guide to fun for families in the NYC area with children with special needs