Special Needs

Relate to Directory Listing Type: 

Sensory Gyms in Brooklyn: 8 Spots for Children's Physical Therapy

We've written about sensory activities before, and while there are plenty of things your kids can do at home, sometimes you want an expert to address certain issues. That's when you might need a sensory gym, one of those highly specialized (and fun) spaces where occupational and physical therapists help kids. Children work on gross and fine motor skills, core strength, neurodevelopmental delays, balance, coordination, and sensory integration, but the activities are usually so engaging they just think they're having a great time.

Finding a sensory gym that's a good fit for your child can be a challenge. Once you do, snagging a great therapist and a decent time slot usually involves multiple wait lists (and relentlessly checking in on those wait lists) and a willingness to remain flexible about scheduling. Fortunately for Brooklyn families, the borough has a number of well-equipped sensory gyms staffed by accomplished therapists.

Inclusive Services at BPL: Free Special Needs Program at the Library

Ever since we moved to southern Brooklyn from the Upper West Side, I've been on the hunt to replace all of the amazing special needs activities we had access to in Manhattan with only limited success. That's why I was really excited to stumble across the FREE Inclusive Services at the Brooklyn Public Library program.

The program, formerly known as The Child's Places, takes place at five borough branches and is a lot more than books. The activities, geared toward children with special needs ages newborn to teen, include reading, playing and clubs where participants engage in a variety of enriching hands-on activities. True to their name, the offerings are inclusive, which means you can bring siblings of all abilities. So no more schlepping to Manhattan when looking for FREE fun for my special needs tween.

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.

Social Skills Groups & Classes for NJ Kids

While socialization comes naturally to some kids, others may need help developing the skills necessary to make and keep friends. If you’re concerned about your child’s ability to socialize with peers, you may want to consider a social skills group which fosters self-confidence through activities such as role-playing, cooperative games and group interactions. They’ll learn important skills such as sharing, taking turns and resolving conflict, and most importantly, they’ll have fun doing it! And for more enrichment opportunities, check out our Enrichment Programs, Classes and Activities Guide for NJ Kids.

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.


Subscribe to RSS - Special Needs