Special Needs

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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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