Sensory-Friendly Activities in

Illinois

Multi-Sensory Theatre

From the theatre:  "ALWAYS BE ASKING 'WHY?'" Seesaw Theatre was founded under the name "Theatre Stands with Autism" in 2012 by Northwestern University seniors Melanie Gertzman and Anna Marr. TSWA was founded with the belief that theatre is a basic human right and denying anyone access because of ability status is unacceptable. Rather than merely accommodating audiences with special needs, Seesaw Theatre produces multi-sensory theatrical experiences for small audiences where each guest is accompanied by their own "adventure guide" who plays with them throughout the production, creating an individualized experience.

MULTI-SENSORY

Our shows are made to embrace all of the senses, not just sight and sound. Get ready to walk into a brand new world.

ONE-ON-ONE

When you bring a guest to a Seesaw Theatre production, you can sit back and relax as an adventure guide acts as their liaison to the show.

SAFE

Our shows are designed under strict supervision from our design chair to be safe and accessible for our audience.

Seesaw Theatre

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Seesaw Theatre

Sensory Friendly App

Prepare for your visit with Shedd Aquarium’s sensory-friendly app. Designed for guests with autism and sensory-processing disorders in mind, the app helps make Shedd more accessible to all guests. Video social guides offer information on individual exhibit spaces, including photos, tips on temperature and noise levels. The app also includes a visual schedule, communication tools, sensory-friendly maps and more tips to plan your visit, set expectations and ease anxiety.

Click to download the app: iTunes  Google Play

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
312-939-2438

Shedd Aquarium

Special Needs Screenings

Special Needs Screenings at Hollywood Blvd Cinema are designed for everyone that may have a different need while seeing a movie. Anything from a sensitivity to loud sounds, inability to sit still (Parents with toddlers you know we mean you) and everything in between.  Lights will be on, sound softer and walking around will be welcomed in a safe judgement free zone. Help us spread the word, we would like to make this a regular occurrence.

Check the website above for movies and showtimes.

Hollywood Blvd.

1001 W 75th ST.
Woodridge, IL 60517
630-427-1880

Hollywood Blvd.

Special Needs Jump Time

Every Tuesday, Sky High Sports turns off the music, dims the lights and dials down the distractions for the comfort of our guests. Our jump sessions for kids with special needs and their families is a passion project for Sky High founder Jerry Raymond.

Every Tuesday during special jump sessions, each jumper is $5 from 3pm until 6pm with one parent or therapist free. Family members who jump are also just $5. Therapists, grandparents and others can’t sign waivers for anyone under 18 years of age. Only parents and legal guardians can sign, so be sure to complete the on-line waiver before arriving!

Sky High Sports

2244 Corporate Lane

Naperville, IL 60563

630-717-5867

Sky High Sports

Bright Stars

Movie fun for everyone! Hollywood Palms is proud to offer BRIGHT STARS screenings - with the lights up, the sound lowered, and where everyone can feel comfortable to talk, move, and enjoy the movie their way.
 
We keep the lights up and soften the sound for a comfortable, sensory-friendly setting, ideal for young children and guests sensitive to loud noises or darkness. Everyone's invited! Bright Stars presentations are ideal for families who want to bring their young children to the movies. Parents can bring their babies - no age limit is enforced.


Bright Stars presentations are discounted for everyone. Enjoy a unique screening at a special price! Every Wednesday (and select Saturdays), guests can enjoy a Bright Stars screening of a popular family film, with the to-your-seat service, full menu, and great experience Hollywood Palms is known for - for only $5 a ticket. Children under the age of three years old are free! Tickets will usually be available a week prior.

Hollywood Palms Cinema
352 South Route 59
Naperville, IL 60540
630-428-5800

Hollywood Palms Cinema

Toys and Camp Programs

We are the only toy store in Illinois specifically for children with developmental disabilities and one of few in the entire country! We offer a variety of toys, sensory items, children’s books as well as resources for caregivers and educators.

We are your source for special needs toys, products and adaptive equipment. What makes Spectrum Toy Store unique is although we specialize in toys for children with disabilities we also carry toys for all children of all types and ages. Our toys focus on the mental, physical and social development of your child.

SPECTRUM Toy Store

1911 W. Belmont
Chicago, IL 60657

773-231-8001

SPECTRUM Toy Store

Field for All App

Personalize your visit to The Field Museum and the Crown Family PlayLab. The Field for All app helps families and groups, including visitors with autism and disabilities, plan their visit with resources like exhibition previews, a customizable schedule, and a sensory-friendly map of the space. Features include visual schedules, social narratives, and interactive games. This app is designed to help all visitors feel welcome and supported in the PlayLab, an interactive hands-on space.

 

Field for All is a free mobile app. Download the iOS app or download the Android app

​​

The Field Museum

1400 S. Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, IL 60605-2496

312-922-9410

The Field Museum

Red Kite Project

The Red Kite Project creates theatrical adventures and dynamic learning experiences for children on the autism spectrum.  Red Kite is a branch of Chicago Children’s Theatre, and was the brainchild of CCT’s artistic director Jacqueline Russell as part of the organization’s ongoing commitment to serving children with special needs, especially autism.

Camp Red Kite is a summer arts half-day camp for children on the autism spectrum.

Red Kite Adventures are multi-sensory theatrical experiences that incorporate into each performance the desires, needs, and whims unique to each child who attends.

 

Red Kite also offers classroom “Drama Time” residencies, along with Teacher Development and Artist-Training Workshops.  For more information on these or other Red Kite opportunities, contact:

Chicago Children's Theatre

100 South Racine Avenue

Chicago, IL 60607

773-227-0180 x322

Chicago Children's Theatre

Music Free Mondays

For our friends with sensitive ears looking for fun kids activities, come enjoy Music FREE Mondays at Airtastic. We turn off the music to remove the extra noise that can bother some children.

Artistic Play Land

850 S. Frontenac Street

Aurora, Illinois 60504

630-851-7525

Artistic Play Land

National Chains That May Have Sensory-Friendly Activities in Your Area: 

Alamo for All

From their website: "Welcome to Alamo for All - a movie program for young families and guests with special needs.  All shows starting before 2 pm on Tuesdays follow Alamo for All rules, with more shows on the weekends.  Schedule may vary during holidays.  At sensory-friendly Alamo for All shows,

  • Lights are turned up and sound is turned down

  • All ages are welcome (including infants)

  • Talking and noise is allowed and guests can move around

  • Latecomers are admitted

  • Adaptive technology is welcome (but no other electronics, please)

 

Bought a ticket to an Alamo for All show by mistake?  No problem!  Contact the theater and we'll be glad to refund or exchange your ticket for another show.

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

Alamo Theatre

The Gym for All Kids

From their website: "We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms was founded to provide a place for children of all ability levels to play and grow together. As the only kids gym that offers an inclusive philosophy we have found all children can benefit from our uniquely designed sensory equipment that is specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders. However, in our experience, all children are able to benefit greatly from this equipment and by allowing children of all ability levels to play together they are able to learn a great deal from each other and become the best motivation for success on every level.

Our Gym Includes:

  • Suspended equipment with swings – for balance and vestibular treatment

  • Crash mats and crash pillows – for fun, motor planning, and strength

  • Zip line – for stress release and joint and body relaxation

  • Trampoline – for building leg and core strength

  • Indoor play structure – for climbing and increasing playground skills

  • Sensory-based toys – for improved auditory processing and fine motor skills

  • Fine Motor and Arts and Crafts Area – for improved hand-eye coordination"

​Check the link above for locations.

We Rock the Spectrum Kid's Gym

Autism Friendly Dining

From their webpage: Providing autism-friendly non-judgmental environments for family dining, socializing and connecting with others who share similar joys and challenges. ALL behaviors are welcomed!

Check the website above for restaurants and dates!

Autism Eats

Sensory Friendly Films

Sensory Friendly showings provide families with varying abilities the opportunity to enjoy a family friendly film where kids can be kids in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums are made comfortable by brighter lights and the sound level is turned down. The audience is encouraged to be themselves and interact with the movie, while having fun without the worry of disturbing others. Dance, sing and enjoy the show!!!

All shows will begin at 10am local time. Films, dates and program are subject to change. Tickets are available in person only the Wednesday prior to each showing.

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

Cobb Theatres

REEL MOVIES FOR Real Needs

A Special Showing for Families and Individuals with Special Needs. We understand that sometimes it is difficult or uncomfortable for families with special needs children to attend movies together.

 

Marcus Theatres Reel Movies for Reel Needs is a specially designed program to serve families with special needs such as autism or other challenges, who seldom attend movies. Reel Movies for Real Needs creates a welcoming and comfortable environment – lower sound, lights up – where families with children who need accommodations will be able to share the experience of seeing family friendly films at a theatre.

Check the link above for dates and locations.

Marcus Theaters

Sensory Friendly Jump

NEW sensory friendly jump time for our special needs community only, every First Sunday of the month from 10am-12n (time/date varies per location).

No flashing lights, no whistles, low music level, and less crowded. We invite you and your families to join us! Reduced rates available (varies per location). Open to sensory-sensitive individuals, their siblings and care-givers only.

Check the link above for dates and locations.

Urban Air Adventure Park

Sensory Friendly Screenings

A pillar of SMG’s Outreach since 2003, our monthly Special Needs Screenings are designed for families raising children with special needs. Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered and children are free to move around, talk, or even dance in the aisles during the movie.

The sensory friendly screenings are free for children with special needs and their siblings. Adult tickets are available at before-noon price. There are no advance ticket sales. Parental guidance is always suggested.

Special Needs Screenings are shown at 11:00am at all SMG locations except EpiCentre. SMG Downey, Monrovia and Redlands look forward to offering our special needs screening program in the near future. We are currently in process of installing new seating and will subsequently undergo remodeling to our full concept. These locations will offer special needs screenings as soon as this work has been completed. 

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

Studio Movie Grill

My Way Matinee

Sensory friendly movie screenings with sounds lower, lights brighter.

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

Regal Cinemas

Sensory Friendly Films

AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes, and don't forget to share your family fun with #AMCSensoryFriendly.

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

AMC Theaters

Wings for Autism®/Wings for All®

Wings for Autism®/Wings for All® are airport “rehearsals” specially designed for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The programs are designed to alleviate the stress that families who have a child with autism or intellectual/developmental disabilities experience when flying. It provides families the opportunity to practice entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane. Airport, airline, Transportation Security Administration professionals, and other personnel also have the opportunity to observe, interact, and deliver their services in a structured learning environment.

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

Major Airports

Sensory Hours

Enjoy the freedom of jumping. Sensory hours provide a quieter, toned-down jumping experience for those with special needs.

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

Sky Zone

Sensory Sensitive Sundays

Chuck E. Cheese's is proud to support families who have children with autism and special needs. We now offer a sensory-friendly experience on the first Sunday of every month. Our trained and caring staff is there to make sure each guest has a fun filled visit. The Sensory Sensitive Sundays experience includes:

  • Less crowding and noise

  • Dimmed lighting

  • Show and music turned off or down

  • Limited appearances by Chuck E.

  • Food and games are offered

 

Check the link above for dates and locations.

Chuck E. Cheese

All Abilities Night

All Abilities Night at iFLY is a unique event that makes the dream of flight a reality for those in the special needs community. This program has been custom designed for those with physical and cognitive challenges to create an environment of support and inclusion, while focusing on making what seems impossible, possible.​

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

iFly