As a mom of a special needs kid, I know how stressful, difficult, and frustrating it can be to plan a family trip. Here are some awesome places to go with the family that accommodate all types of special needs.
Boston Children’s Museum has a program called Morningstar access. The museum opens a couple hours early or stays open late to give access to special needs families. They only allow 100 families per event in order to keep crowds smaller, and you must contact the museum to reserve your spot. The Children’s Museum also offers ASL-interpreted programs and assistive listening devices for all performances in the KidStage Theater and in other exhibits when possible.
This old-school amusement park is just the right size. If you go to guest services and get a wristband, your special needs child can take advantage of the accessibility entrance and cut down on the lines. Your child may take up to three other companions through the accessibility entrance as well. I have also heard the park allows children to wear their headphone on certain rides if they have sensory issues.
These are both definitely more for overnight trips, but they’re well worth it. Both Story Land and Santa’s Village have accommodations for special needs individuals. You simply go to guest services with your child, and a staff member will give you a card (and will write what your child is wearing so the card cannot be transferred). You can use this card to access rides through the exit instead of the entrance, so you avoid the lines.
Too hot to be outside? AMC movie theaters provide sensory-friendly films on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Lights are left on, and volume is turned down so as to not overwhelm your kids. Check your local theater for showtimes.
Need a real getaway? Sesame Place is our favorite. It’s about a five-hour drive, and we usually make a few stops on our way down to Pennsylvania. We like to leave the park at night so the kids sleep in the car on the way home. This place has been recognized as the first amusement park to be a certified Autism Center. At guest services, you can get a wristband to cut the lines on rides (both dry and water rides), and they will never kick you out of the lazy river if you have a wristband on. They provide quiet rooms, noise-canceling headphones, and staff trained to recognize and help special needs families. It’s a wonderful experience and maybe the perfect three-day trip for your family.