If your “family fun” feels a little more like tired togetherness, it’s time for an action-packed adventure in Northeast Ohio. Whether your family chooses to vacate or stay-cate this year, summer travel is on. And in Cleveland, there’s nothing to stop you if your family includes kids or teens with developmental, learning, or sensory processing differences, including autism spectrum disorder.
Here are seven sensory inclusive Cleveland attractions that the whole family will agree on. These venues have teamed up with local experts to design engaging experiences for families with extra support to meet travelers with sensory needs. Call ahead to register for tickets and ask Guest Services about the accommodations available at the venue.
Visitor comforts might include sensory bags filled with fidget toys and manipulatives. There are also noise cancelling headphones, social stories, visual maps, and more with comfortable sensory rooms for everyone to “chillax” in. It is summer, after all.
(Be sure to check with each location for current operating hours and procedures.)
Image © Children’s Museum of Cleveland
Kids, toddlers-age 8, explore and learn through hands-on play in any of the seven exhibits, such as the two-story Adventure City. The Museum has also partnered with the Monarch Center for Autism’s “Welcoming Spaces Program” to provide a sensory-friendly room and autism resources.
Image © Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
At every event hosted, there is a designated Sensory Room for individuals, child through adult who need a quiet, calming space. A Guest Services Ambassador or the Services Booth can link families to many sensory-friendly resources available.
Talespinner’s “Exceptional Inclusion” program incorporates lower lighting, audience interaction, and regard for sight and sound experiences into every main stage show. Pre-curtain resources and calming areas are provided for a sensory-friendly, theatrical experience.
This lush aquatic environment offers live plants, calm lighting, soothing bird sounds and colorful tanks of fresh and saltwater fish as well as hands-on interactive displays. The 175-foot sea tube offers exciting underwater views of sharks. A sensory field guide to prepare families for lighting, sounds, smells and textures for each exhibit.
This elevated 1/3 mile boardwalk offers nature access for children through adults of all abilities. Travel through forest, over the Doan Brook, and overlook the marsh and Lower Shaker Lake. Get a close-up view of birds, fish and flowers. The new 2020 ADA-accessible ramp has textured handrails and safe, clear views for young children. A hand-crafted cedar pagoda in the shape of an owl offers benches to rest.
With jarring sounds reduced, strobe lights eliminated, and house lights on low throughout the performance, musical theater becomes sensory-friendly for special performances.
The Zoo offers tools for guests with sensory needs, including six “quiet zones,” “headphone zones” where loud noises are present, and sensory bags. The bags contain optional identification cards, fidget tools and noise reducing headphones.
Image © Daily Property Management
This charming airbnb is professionally maintained by Daily Behavioral Health and the local autism community, close to Lake Erie, Downtown Cleveland, the Theatre District, and sporting events. When not occupied, the house is used to teach life skills to young adults on the autism spectrum, who welcome guests by preparing a basket of fresh baked goods themselves.
KultureCity, a leader in creating sensory accessibility and inclusion for all, worked with several local venues to ensure they have the education and tools necessary to better engage individuals with sensory needs. Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Progressive Field, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Canal Way Center have all received KultureCity’s Sensory Inclusive™ Certification.