Special Needs

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New Sensory Room Opens at Long Island Children’s Museum

The Long Island Children’s Museum, part of Nassau County’s famed Museum Row in Garden City, is dedicated to providing fun, educational exhibits, programs, and performances to children and their families. But with its vast open spaces—it’s housed in a converted airplane hangar—bright lights, noise, and overexcited visitors, for some children a visit can be overwhelming.

With the needs of those children in mind, the museum in October 2017 opened a new sensory room. The dedicated space is the latest component of LICM4all, an initiative that helps the museum better serve all children and families.

New LICM4All App Helps Families Enjoy The Long Island Children's Museum Even More

The Long Island Children's Museum gets it: under the best circumstances, it takes planning to pull off a great outing with kids; if your child has special needs, even more so. That's why we think their new smartphone app isn't just smart, it's brilliant.

Designed specifically to support children with neurodiversities and physical challenges, the free LICM4all app aims to take the guesswork out of planning a visit to the museum. Before the trip, families can download the app from either the App Store or Google Play and create a totally customized schedule based on their interests, as well as their needs. Short videos offer a sneak peek into current exhibitions, while also showing kids what to expect — like that they may get a little messy at the Bubbles exhibit, or that they might have to wait their turn at the TotSpot. Meanwhile, the color-coded, sensory-friendly museum map identifies galleries that are quieter or louder, and a list of tips provides parents with helpful details on accessible parking, restrooms, service animals, and more.

Zylofone: Music Workshops for Hudson Valley Families with Special Needs

Finding supportive and inspiring arts and development programs for children with special needs isn't always easy. Luckily, families in Orange County and surrounding areas have Zylofone, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing such quality programming and opportunities. This Campbell Hall-based group provides music-centered workshops that promote creativity and growth in both physical and cognitive abilities.

Founded by a single mother who raised twin boys with special needs, Zylofone offers engaging and tailored programming designed to be compassionate, encouraging, educational and fun for students of all ages and their families.

Looking for more creative programming for children in Westchester and the Hudson Valley? Consult our Classes Guide and sign up for our newsletters.

Special Needs Programs and Classes for New York City Kids

Some kids take so many extra-curricular activities they barely have time to play, but for other kids, after-school classes can be a challenge. Whether your child has a developmental challenge, disability, or disorder, or they just struggle with all things organized, the slew of general after-school activities might not work well for them. Luckily, no matter how small or great a child's challenges may be, NYC offers a number of options for children of every ability.

We've rounded up more than two dozen great classes for kids with a special need or disability. Don't forget to ask about summer camps and holiday mini camps. Many of these programs offer them, too.

Check out our NYC Special Needs Guide for more ideas, programs and services, including sensory gyms, support groups, and sensory activities.

Inclusive Playgrounds for Long Island Kids with Special Needs

Inclusive playgrounds allow kids of all ages and abilities to come together in an environment that facilitates shared play. Long Island has so many great playgrounds where kids can just be kids, but here is our list of playgrounds that also include equipment and/or layouts suitable for children with special needs or a disability.

Looking for more playground fun? See our lists of the best playgrounds on Long Island and the top playgrounds for toddlers. For a complete guide to parks, playgrounds, and family fun hiking trails, check out our guide to Long Island parks and playgrounds.

Lincoln Center Launches Arts Festival for Children with Autism

Lincoln Center is making headlines in the New York City special needs community. The iconic cultural institution is launching the "Big Umbrella Festival," a month of arts programming dedicated to autistic kids and their families. The inaugural festival is set to take over stages on the cultural campus and at local schools in April 2018, Autism Awareness Month.

The stated mission is to "enrich the lives of children on the autism spectrum through inclusive art that engages, educates, and inspires." While still a year away, the monthlong festival is surely a welcome addition to city's existing cultural programs for kids with autism.

Queens Sensory Gyms for Kids with Disabilities

Sensory gyms are a great resource for children with special needs or a developmental delay or concern. The specialized play equipment entertains as it provides treatment, and it's often a supportive environment for families, too. While there are many activities parents and children can do at home, a sensory gym offers equipment not usually available in a New York City apartment. Some facilities even offer time with trained therapists. 

Queens doesn't have as many sensory gyms as Manhattan or Brooklyn, so it can be difficult to find quality classes or even an indoor play space where kids can play safely with other youngsters. It does, however, have a growing number of well-equipped gyms run by experienced therapists; we rounded up six for you below.

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