Special Needs

9 Sensory Gyms for Children's Physical Therapy in Manhattan

Living in a city as diverse as New York means that many services are right at our fingertips, including expert physical, occupational, sensory and speech therapists who specialize in children. Whether your child is facing a lifetime of therapy due to disability, or is working to overcome a developmental delay or other issue, the city's sensory gyms and therapists can help.

Manhattan has a bunch of amazing sensory gyms that offer fun, safe environments for children to work on their core strength, balance, fine motor skills, language, sensory integration, behavior, attention and social interaction skills. The bad news? There are so many options that picking the best sensory gym for your child’s particular needs may feel like finding a needle in a haystack. We've rounded up nine top gyms to get you started. This list is by no means comprehensive, but as the mom to a tween with special needs who's been to quite a few of these spots, I believe these nine are a great place to start.

Check out our special needs and disability guide for more crucial info on resources and services for NYC families.

Sensory Gym for Children with Disabilities Opens in Queens

Extreme Kids & Crew, a mom-founded nonprofit, just opened its third NYC sensory gym for children with disabilities and its first outpost in Queens. We've visited its Brooklyn play spaces in Crown Heights and Red Hook in the past, so we were excited to see its latest, Ridgewood Space, in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens, which straddles Brooklyn and is often touted as the next hot NYC nabe.

The goal of the Brooklyn-based nonprofit is to provide supportive spaces for children with disabilities and their families to play and connect. The new Ridgewood spot is located in P.S. 71 elementary school, and offers places to swing, slide, build and just chill out. The bubble machine particularly caught our eye.

The borough seems to be adding more and more indoor play spaces for kids, including Sabrina's and Shastye last year, and we're happy to welcome Extreme Kids & Crew to the fold. Read on for our full review.

Find Special Needs Parent Groups Online and in New York City

For parents’ of kids with special-needs, sometimes it helps to know you’re not alone and to talk to someone else who gets it. But finding support from parents who know what you’re going through can fall to the bottom of a long to-do list. We’ve gathered some of the best support resources—both online and in-person—for parents of New York City kids with special needs.

Autism-Friendly Museum Hours and Cultural Programs in NYC

New York City is one of the most bustling places in the world, which can make outings with any child tough. But things get particularly tricky for parents of kids on the autism spectrum, who might worry about overstimulation in kid-friendly settings. That’s why some museums and cultural centers have created comfortable, safe spaces for families with special needs to explore, often in tandem with educators and specialists.

We’ve gathered up some of the best of the bunch, from the Met to the Brooklyn Children's Museum to an after-school "Subway Sleuths" program, as well as several FREE options. Peruse our NYC Special Needs Guide for more helpful tips and local programs.

NYC Summer Camps for Kids with Special Needs

It's tough to find the right summer camp for any kid. But if your child has special needs, like autism or ADHD, choosing a program can be especially nerve-racking. Children with special needs often shun sports or swimming, get spooked by new activities or field trips and are prone to meltdowns when exposed to loud noises or bright lights. They also may need careful supervision to make sure they are being safe and playing well with their peers.

There are several New York City-area day and commuter camps that cater to kids with special needs so they can have a fun-filled summer and make new friends. These programs understand that these kids may need time to adjust to a new summertime routine while getting them up and moving in healthy, productive ways.

Best Allergen-Friendly Bakeries in Westchester

While the words gluten-free, nut-free, vegan and dairy-free and have long been associated with below-average offerings, this list proves safe-for-everyone snacks don't have to be tasteless. Whether it’s you, your little ones or last-minute house guests, feel free to indulge in allergen-conscious treats from these dietary-restriction-friendly bakers. After all, the simple pleasure of a baked cookie or cupcake should be enjoyed by everyone.

Here are six Westchester bakeries that will cater to your allergies and food preferences, doctor-recommended or not. Check out our Restaurant Guide for more kid-friendly places to eat, and sign up for our FREE newsletters to stay up to date for all things family-friendly in Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley. 

Sensory Savvy Snacks Help Kids Do Better in School

What kids eat is very important and having the right snack can actually improve a child's ability to learn. Our school occupational therapy consultant, Casey Halper, put together a list of sensory smart snacks just in time for back to school. That means that they are snacks that help kids stay alert and focused in school without making them hyper and restless. These are great snack ideas for children in school, but would be equally great snack choices for toddlers too. Some of the themes for healthy sensory snacks are:

  • Crunchy and chewy foods help make kids more alert by engaging their senses.
  • Sipping or sucking can help organize and calm children.
  • And of course fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and calcium rich foods make them healthy overall.

Try These Sensory Smart Snacks:

20 Classic Educational OT Toys To Help Children Prepare for School

Last week there was an article in the NY Times, “Watch How You Hold That Crayon,” about OT and handwriting. In the article Anthony DiCarlo, a Principal stated, “In the last five years, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of kids who don’t have the strength in their hands to wield scissors or do arts and crafts projects, which in turn prepares them for writing."

He goes on to say that while many kids head back to school with accomplishments like music, yoga and sports classes, they may not have logged enough time in open-ended play. “I’m all for academic rigor,” he said, “but these days I tell parents that letting their child mold clay, play in the sand or build with Play-Doh builds important school-readiness skills, too.”

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Special Needs