08 Jan New Jersey’s top 10 children’s autism friendly activities – 2020 List | Friends of Cyrus
Any parent of a child on the autism spectrum understands the beauty of discovering a fun-filled, autism sensitive family activity. Thankfully, 2020 is full of options! Whether you live in North, Central or South Jersey, there is something for you on this list. This top 10, selected by the Friends of Cyrus Children’s ABA clinic team, includes activities that are: 1) Super fun, and 2) Not limited to just a single event or two. After all, any family can be in the mood for some spontaneity from time to time! Without further ado, here are our picks for New Jersey’s top 10 children’s autism friendly activities of 2020.
1. Sesame Place
Let’s start things off with this year’s no-brainer. In April of 2018, Sesame Place, located just 30 minutes North of Philadelphia and 30 minutes west of Trenton, became America’s first autism certified theme park.
Partnering with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, Sesame Place trains every one of its staff members and offers specialized dining options, quiet rooms, low sensory areas, low sensory parade viewing, a ride accessibility program and more. Staff are trained on topics ranging from sensory awareness, to motor skills, social skills, and surrounding environment awareness. All of the park’s rides are ranked on a special sensory guide from 1-10.
Not bad for a less than one hour drive for the majority of New Jersey!
2. Chuck E. Cheese’s
Many parents of autistic children will already be familiar with this arcade and restaurant chain’s unique commitment to families with children on the autism spectrum.
Several Chuck E. Cheese locations provide a “Sensory Sunday” event, normally the first Sunday of every month. Autism-sensitive considerations include reduced lighting, noise, trained staff members, and food and game considerations.
Location: Participating locations include: Bricktown, Bridgewater, Cherry Hill, Deptford, East Hanover, Edison, Jersey City, Mays Landing, Paramus, Union, Wayne, West Windsor.
Time: First Sunday of every month, 2 hours before open time.
Phone Number: See Location Finder
Website: Chuck E. Cheese’s Location Finder
3. AMC Theatres
AMC’s Sensory Friendly Film program is widespread and available on the second and fourth Saturday of every month, as well as Tuesday evenings for mature audiences.
Naturally, movie times will vary. Check the website link below to view the list of any current sensory friendly films.
Locations: AMC Clifton, AMC Freehold, AMC Jersey Gardens, AMC Rockaway, AMC Wayne, AMC New Brunswick
Times: See individual locations
Phone Number: See individual locations
Website: AMC Sensory Friendly Films
4. Franklin Institute
Those of us born and bred in South Jersey may well recall piling up in a school bus with our classmates early in the morning, in route to the famed Franklin Institute science museum. As is often the case with institutional thought leaders, Ben Franklin’s namesake has taken the inclusivity plunge.
Everyday: The Franklin Institute provides “sensory alert maps,” designed to help parents understand which areas in the museum are likely to have high levels of noise, lights, and stimulation. They also provide sensory backpacks, filled with sunglasses, weighted toys, noise-reducing headphones and more. The museum also specifies the locations for its quiet exhibits.
Sundays: Sensory-Friendly Sundays include modified exhibits and events.
Location: 222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Time: All day and especially on Sundays
Phone Number: (215) 448-1200
Website: Franklin Institute Sensory Friendly Information
5. Please Touch Museum
The Please Touch Museum is a dream come true for the curious kid. The name of the game is learning through play, and the museum provides opportunities for children to do so at their own pace.
For parents of children with special needs, it isn’t hard to find the museum’s dedicated quiet spaces. Staff members are trained to work with kids with any number of special considerations, and noise reducing headphones are always on hand.
In addition to the museum’s attention to varied learning styles, four Sundays every year “Play Without Boundaries” serves children on the autism spectrum by offering “a modified, sensory-friendly, all-access museum experience augmented with Floreo virtual reality, therapy animals and visits from community health experts.”
Location: 4231 Avenue of the Republic Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19131
Time: Dates and Times TBA – Call soon to find out!
Phone Number: (215) 581-3181
Website: Please Touch Museum Website
6. Live Theater
There are a host of live, autism sensitive performances across NJ and our neighboring states every year. Here is a list!
Autism Theatre Initiative (Broadway!) – New York, New York
– Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Sunday March 1, 2020 Part One at 1:00 p.m and Part Two at 6:30 p.m. ON SALE today. Tickets for purchase include both part I and part II. Purchasing tickets to one part is NOT an option. A password is required to purchase tickets. Sign up here to receive the password.
– Aladdin, Sunday May 3, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.
Website: Autism Theatre Initiative
Paper Mill Playhouse – Millburn, NJ
– Charlotte’s Web — Autism Friendly Performance, Sunday, June 14th, 2020 at 10 AM.
Union County Arts Center – Rahway, NJ
– Sensory Friendly Theatre —NJ Ballet’s Cinderella: March 8, 2020
– Sensory Friendly Theatre —Jeff Boyer’s Bubble Trouble: May 3, 2020
Stay tuned for more Autism friendly performances in 2020 from the following theaters:
7. POAC Events
POAC Autism services networks with a vast number of supporters to throw (literally) hundreds of free events every year. The organization’s events include, “free training and education for parents and educators; free recreational and support services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families; and free training for police and first responders which is saving the lives of children with autism throughout the state.”
In addition to all this, the non-profit also advocates for legislation supporting individuals with autism.
Locations: Throughout NJ
Website: POAC events
8. Air Trampoline/Bounce Zones
A blast of an activity for kids, “bounce,” “trampoline,” or “sky” zones all offer the same thing: The ability for kids to jump higher than Michael Jordan. Oh, and have a blast. There are several options in New Jersey and most provide sensory sensitive hours. Here are a few options to check out.
Bounce U – Paramus, NJ, Tuesdays 5pm – 6pm and 6pm – 7pm, and Sundays at 8:45am
Bounce U Website
Skyzone – Lakewood, Ocean Twp, Hamilton, Moorestown, Springfield, South Elizabeth, times vary.
Skyzone Locations Website
Flight Fit N Fun- Sewell, NJ Sensory Friendly Jump. The first and third Sunday of every month from 9-10am.
9. Diggerland USA
Originally hailing from the UK, Diggerland opened its first US based park in West Berlin New Jersey in 2014. The park offers a host of rides, attractions and events, ranging from zip lines, to rock walls, to rope courses, and more. Diggerland team members do a nice job accommodating special needs kids throughout the park’s open season, and they also host a SAND event (Special Abilities Night at Diggerland).
Location: West Berlin, NJ
Time: Open between March and November. Call for more info.
Number: 856-768-1110 (new number!)
Website: Diggerland Website
10. Heart of Surfing
A cool opportunity (and story!) for South Jersey Residents, the heart of surfing is a non-profit organization that teaches kids with special needs how to surf, roller skate, engage in fitness, yoga, arts and crafts and more. The organization started five years ago with just a few participating families. Today, it’s much bigger and still growing!
Locations: Egg Harbor Twp. Jersey Shore
Time: Various Times and Events
Website: Heart of Surfing Website
There you have it! New Jersey’s top 10 children’s autism friendly activities for the new year. Welcome 2020! We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. To learn more about the authors of this article, check out the brand new FOC Children’s ABA Clinic by clicking here. To visit our website, click here. To join an educational community about childhood autism and early intervention, join our Facebook group.