Detroit skyline.

Did you know that Michigan has one of the highest rates of autism in the country? More than 16,000 students enrolled in Michigan’s schools are living with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

While it seems like there are always events happening throughout the metro Detroit area for kids, it can often be a process of elimination to find activities that are suitable for children with sensory processing disorders or autism. But it doesn’t have to be an impossible task! Every day, sensory-friendly events exist for the sole purpose of uniting children with special needs and allowing them to feel included in a less stressful setting.

Sensory-Friendly Events in Metro Detroit This Spring

From indoor sensory-friendly events that you and your children can enjoy any day of the week to specific outings for children with special needs, we’ve got you covered this spring with a list of family-friendly activities throughout the entire metro Detroit area! We’ve included ideas for little ones as well as older children, so no one is left out of the fun!

Toddler/Elementary-Aged Activities that are Sensory Friendly:

  • Chuck E Cheese: Rochester Hills
  • While on the surface, a visit to Chuck E Cheese doesn’t seem like a sensory-friendly activity, it can be! In addition to putting into practice some of the skills your child has been learning through ABA Therapy, some Chuck E Cheese locations like this one, actually open two hours early on the first Sunday of the month for children with special needs to play in a less stressful environment! Always make sure to call in advance to make sure hours haven’t changed, but this is a great way to experience Chuck E Cheese without all the crowds and noise!

  • Play-Place Autism & Special Needs Center: Sterling Heights
  • Play-Place is a fantastic resource for families with children on the spectrum and their siblings! The unique design allows siblings to play together in a safe space. Not only does Play-Place offer a safe sensory play environment, but it also features a computer café, LEGO room, and a haircut hut! It’s the perfect weekend activity for the whole family! Plus, the Play-Place believes in equipping the entire family with tools for success in navigating an Autism diagnosis and has periodic programming explicitly tailored to caretakers about things like IEPs, ABA Therapy, and more!

  • Adaptive Storytime: Sterling Heights Public Library
  • An open environment for children with autism or any other sensory processing disorders, this unique storytime at the Sterling Heights Public Library is an excellent way for you and your children to engage in a morning full of stories and movement! Perfect for children ages three to ten, registration is required!

  • Adaptive Youth Fitness: YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit
  • The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit strives to serve the community in any way it can, including offering adaptive fitness classes for children ages four and up. From yoga classes that encourage increased flexibility, cardio-strength workouts supervised by a special needs trainer, one-on-one fitness classes, and fun fitness group classes led by experienced staff, there is truly something for everyone! For weekly schedules and more information, check the YMCA website or contact your local club.

  • Count Me In! Special Needs Storytime: Canton Public Library
  • Funded through the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, this special needs storytime will be filled with picture books, preschool songs, and simple sign language instruction for children and their families or caregivers. Each month will feature a different literary theme. To find out more, visit the Canton Public library website.

  • Sensory Hours at Sky Zone Trampoline Park
  • Allow your child to enjoy the freedom that comes with jumping at the Sky Zone trampoline park, but with a calmer atmosphere. Sensory hours provide a quieter, toned-down experience that children with sensory processing disorders need. Check with your closest Sky Zone Trampoline Park for their sensory hours!

  • Sea Life Aquarium: Auburn Hills
  • Enjoy the full Sea Life Aquarium experience with your toddler from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on select Mondays and Thursdays at Toddler Time! Not only can you save on the price of admission, but it’s the perfect activity for your curious child who loves the underwater world! If you’re looking for sensory-friendly hours, check with the Aquarium, as they typically have sensory-friendly hours an hour before general admission with lights and sounds turned down so everyone can enjoy a walk through the amazing underwater world.

    Pre-Teen and Teen Activities that are Sensory-Friendly:

  • Night to Shine: 2020
  • Teens and young adults are encouraged to attend this safe and supportive Prom night, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation at Life Bridge Church in Taylor. Teens 13 years old and over with special needs are welcome to attend this free event!

  • Adult and Teen Sensory Storytime: Bloomfield Township Public Library
  • Adults and teens can join in on the movement, music, and art at this adaptive storytime at the Bloomfield Township Public Library. Occurring the second Monday of every month at 11 a.m., this is a unique event that you’ll want to add to your monthly routine!

  • Sensory-Friendly Movies for Adults and Teens: Bloomfield Township Library
  • If books aren’t your child’s thing, why not try a sensory-friendly event featuring a new documentary each month? Specially designed for teens and adults with developmental or sensory-processing disorders, each movie is played with the sound down and the lights up, keeping the event inclusive of all! These movies are screened the last Friday of each month at 11 a.m.

  • Aspie Teen Social: Autism Support and Resource Center in Burton
  • Perfect for ASD teens from 11-18 (and their same-aged siblings!) that are independent enough to be dropped off for a social with other teens their age, this event features structured activities and self-selection activities that encourage socialization and fosters the making of friendships. Teens will enjoy a pizza dinner each month, too! The cost to attend is $5 per person. For more information, check out the Autism Support and Resource Center’s website!

    Activities for Everyone:

  • AMC Sensory-Friendly Films: Metro Detroit Theatres
  • Did you know that AMC Theatres partner with the Autism Society to bring special movie showings in a sensory-friendly environment for families as well as mature audiences?  Lights are up, the sound is down, and aisles are clear for patrons to get up and dance, walk, or sing! Family-friendly movie showings happen on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, and the mature audience showings happen on Wednesday evenings. For more information, check with your local metro Detroit AMC theatre!

  • Emagine Theatres: Birch Run, Canton, Hartland, Macomb, Novi, Rochester Hills, and Saline
  • Voted the Best Movie Theatre for several years running by the Detroit Free Press, Emagine Theatres boasts a luxury movie-viewing experience with reclining seats and gourmet snacks. For families, teens, and children with sensory needs, Emagine Theatres has now started offering sensory-friendly screenings. What is a sensory-friendly screening? Put simply; it’s a movie-viewing experience that puts everyone at ease. House lights will be on during the showing, the volume will be low, audience interaction is allowed and encouraged, and those with food allergies will be permitted to bring in their snacks and beverages to make everyone feel at home. For specific dates, times, and what’s playing this month, check out the Emagine Theatres website.

  • SatARTdays: Anton Art Center
  • The first quarter’s schedule for 2020 is out, and SatARTdays promises to be exciting for everyone involved! Pencil in the second Saturday of each month for a free art event or performance around the metro Detroit area. Open to everyone in the community, these events are the perfect occasion to take your children to practice ABA Therapy techniques and have fun while doing it! For the schedule of events, check out Anton Art Center’s website today!

  • Art Explorers Special Needs Art Class: Plymouth
  • This inclusive art class for children of all abilities focuses on fine motor skills, patience, self-reflection, communication, and sensory processing, all wonderful things to practice in a group environment outside of ABA Therapy! Once a month, children will create a different piece of art and learn to interact with the world around them. Because the Makers ‘N Shakers wants everyone in Detroit to have the ability to interact with the healing world of art, these classes are “pay what you can,” so anyone can join! For more information, check out this website for specific dates and times.

    Behavioral Therapy in Metro Detroit

    If you live in the Detroit area and are interested in learning more about how ABA Therapy can help your child, reach out to us today! At Blossom Children’s Center, we strive to create an all-encompassing center for families, furthering our commitment to the families and children of the metro Detroit area.

    How Can ABA Therapy Support Your Outings?

    ABA Therapy, or Applied Behavioral Analysis, takes a look at your child’s environment and the impact it makes on their behavior. Highly personalized for each child, ABA Therapy is essential in understanding, influencing, and, ultimately, learning to change unwanted behaviors. However, the key to ABA Therapy is utilizing positive reinforcement, not negative. Rewards are often the easiest way to affect change in behavior, not just in children with ASD or autism, but in any child having issues coping with specific environments.

    ABA Therapy has shown to be beneficial in multiple areas in a child’s life:

    • Self-care skills
    • Home
    • School
    • Social Skills

    How Can ABA Therapy Help My Child?

    Caregivers and parents are essential in reinforcing the work done in ABA Therapy, because you are the second line of defense, supporting your child in environments when these harmful or distracting behaviors come up, often outside of ABA Therapy.

    Did you know that among other things, ABA Therapy helps your child develop essential social skills like:

    • Feeding themselves
    • Potty training
    • Coping Skills
    • Communication Skills
    • Social skills with adults, peers, and in group settings

    A number of these skills are necessary for your child to know relatively early on in life, which is why early intervention is so necessary. It can make the therapy process a much smoother transition for yourself and your child!

    ABA Therapy at Home

    One of the most common questions parents have for therapists is how they can continue to encourage the new, positive behaviors at home and play. Planning playdates and taking your child out into the metro Detroit area and applying the positive reinforcement techniques you and your child have learned through ABA Therapy are two excellent ways to continue the forward progress in a fun way! By picking the right events that cater to your child’s specific needs or challenges will set you up for success and ensure that everyone walks away with a smile on their face and lots of happy memories to look back on!

    Tips for Success Outside of ABA Therapy

    When you leave your therapist, it’s easy to feel like you may not be “doing it right.” Still, by following a few pieces of advice from trained therapy professionals, you can make sure you are doing what’s best for you and your child every time you take them to activities in Detroit. Keeping a record of results, like things that did and didn’t work, will prove helpful to you and your child’s therapist, and it will be essential to see how far you’ve come and how much progress you and your child have made from month to month. Here are a few tips you can think about as you start planning your outings this spring!

    1. Have fun

    Above all, this should be your first goal. Make sure whatever you choose to do, it’s something your child enjoys. You don’t want every outing to feel stressful, or as work, it should be an opportunity for one-on-one bonding time with your child or a memorable family outing!

    1. Note what positive reinforcement techniques motivate your child most

    Keep track of what does and doesn’t work so you can share with your child’s therapist during your next visit. This information is essential to learning more about your child, helping them succeed outside of therapy.

    1. Make a note of what activities your child prefers

    This may seem obvious, but taking note of the kinds of activities that your child loves will help you plan events and outings that they’ll enjoy and will likely want to repeat. This desire to be at these events will likely spark the desired behaviors you’re working towards in therapy, which is a step in the right direction!

    Let us know if the team at Blossom Children’s Center and our team of trained therapists and loving staff members can support you on your family’s journey!

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