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Inclusive Activities and Events for Children with Special Needs on Long Island

These organizations and locations are committed to providing spaces where children with and without special needs can have fun together.

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. However, Long Island is home to many organizations, including a amusement parks, museums, and play spaces, that are committed to ensuring that kids with and without special needs can have fun together.

 

Amusement Parks

Adventureland

2245 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale 

631-694-6868

Adventureland has many gentle, safe rides such as the wave swing, the train, a merry-go-round, the Ferris wheel, and the rattlesnake coaster. The park’s special needs pass is good for one child and three other people, and allows everyone to be first in line for any rides they’d like to experience.

 

Museums 

Long Island Children’s Museum

11 Davis Ave., Garden City

516-224-5800

All of the galleries at the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City are wheelchair-accessible. Galleries include an area devoted to bubbles, a live animal exhibit, the “Sound Showers” exhibit that allows kids to get creative with music and sounds, and more. The museum also offers “Friendly Hours,” a bi-monthly museum time for families with children who are neuro-divergent or have physical challenges when the museum makes alterations to lighting and sound. There is also a sensory-friendly theater, sensory room, assistive devices, visual vocabulary cards, and ASL interpreted performances. If you want to avoid large crowds, the museum suggests visiting during weekday afternoons during the school year, sunny weekends during the summer, and nice-weather weekends during the fall and spring. The museum is most crowded during school breaks and inclement weather days.

 

Children’s Museum of the East End

376 Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike, Bridgehampton

631-537-8250

Most programming at the museum is ideal for kids ages 2-6 who can participate in art studio workshops, cooking classes, and more. But the museum says they can make any program inclusive by adjusting to each individual child’s developmental and comfort level. Workshop classes are small groups in contained classroom environments. The museum also provides 1-to-1 support for their summer programs on a case-by-case basis. This is a great place for a child to go with his or her speech, occupational, or physical therapist.

 

Playgrounds and Play Spaces 

Coe Hall & Park Sensory Garden 

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
1395 Planting Fields Road, Oyster Bay

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This all-inclusive garden allows all kids to enjoy a peaceful, grounding afternoon surrounded by beautiful structures and sculptures, plants and flowers, butterflies and insects, and sculptures.  

 

Let All the Children Play at Eisenhower Park

Field 4 Eisenhower Park
33 S. Service Road, #122, Jericho
516-569-0648

This 2-acre accessible park and playground is specially designed so children with disabilities and special needs can play alongside their siblings and friends without special needs. The equipment exceeds the guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and is designed to help children develop gross and fine motor skills and cultivate balance and spatial perception. There are three play areas: one for toddlers, a 2- to 5-year-old section, and another for children ages 5-12. Swings have harnesses, slides have gradual slopes, and the seesaw has a backrest on one side to provide more stability. The paths are wide enough for a wheelchair, and the surface is springy throughout. Sand and water play areas can be accessed with a wheelchair. Parking and amenities are nearby, and there are benches all around for comfortable supervision.

 

Pump it Up Great Neck

225 Community Drive, Suite 250, Great Neck
516-466-7867

Pump It Up, a play space filled with giant inflatables, offers monthly Sensory Playtime sessions for kids on the autism spectrum. On select Tuesday nights, bring your child to bounce, jump, slide, and play sensory-friendly games in private arenas. Pump It Up can also accommodate support groups, play therapy sessions, and social events for individuals on the autism spectrum or those with other special needs, their family members and friends, and the professionals who work with them. Registration is required for these sessions. Cost is $14.95 per child. 

 

Safari Adventure

1074 Pulaski St., Riverhead 

631-727-4386

This amazing indoor play space has tons to do for kids with and without disabilities, including an 18-foot-tall soft playground, an inflatable obstacle course, an inflatable slide, arcade games, a hands-on sensory area, and a sensory calming spa. Kids can experience Open Play all day, every day beginning at $17 per child. Safari Adventure also offers group sessions for organizations and camps, as well as birthday parties and character appearance events. 

 

Also see:

Special Parent magazine, dedicated to helping parents of children with special needs