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Autism-Friendly Activities in

North Carolina

Matthews Playhouse of Performing Arts Inc

Around the World in 80 Days - Sensory Friendly Performance

Saturday, March 2nd at 11:00am  Matthews Playhouse is committed to offering performances in our Mainstage season to accommodate the needs of audience members on the autism spectrum and/or with a cognitive or developmental disability. Some of the features in our Sensory Friendly performances include:


  • Lower sound and light levels

  • A guide to warn audience members of potentially startling or loud sounds

  • Dim lighting in the seating area that will remain on for the duration of the performance

  • Designated quiet and calm spaces for audience members to utilize as needed

  • Permission for audience members to stand, roam around, and come and go as needed

  • Audience members are also welcome to bring certain items that provide comfort (cushions, headphones, electronics, snacks, and other support items)


Matthews Community Center - Fullwood Theater

100 East McDowell Street

Matthews, NC 28105

704-846-8343

Millstone 14

Sensory Friendly Screenings

Sensory screenings of new releases of children's films at 10am on the Saturday of the film's opening weekend.  A discount drink and popcorn deal is also included.  Lights and sound are lowered and guests are free to dance, sign and move around. Available for all ages.


Millstone 14

3400 Footbridge Ln.

Fayetteville, NC 28306

910-354-2121

The Block

Sensory Hour Sunday

During Sensory Hour, you can enjoy all the fun activities in our indoor park without the usual background music. We turn off the music to ensure a more peaceful and comfortable atmosphere, allowing you to fully enjoy your time with us.


The Block

105 6th St.

North Wilkesboro, NC 28659

336-818-1889

Dish it Out Pottery Painting Studio

Sensory Friendly Pottery Painting

Studies have shown that art and painting pottery can have a positive impact on the lives of people with autism. The National Endowment for the Arts found that Autistic individuals are twice as likely to engage in creative activities compared to the general population.  For adolescents with Autism, art therapy has been found to improve social interaction, communication skills, and sensory integration. Additionally, pottery painting can enhance hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.   For adults with Autism, engaging in art and pottery has been shown to reduce stress, improve overall well-being, and provide a sense of accomplishment. A study conducted by the National Autistic Society found that 76% of adults with autism reported that engaging in creative activities helped them to manage anxiety. This can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with social interactions or sensory processing challenges.


Dish it Out Pottery Painting Studio

7828 Rea Rd-C

Charlotte, NC 28277

704-544-4848

Glenn McNairy Branch, Greensboro Public Library

2024 Autism Awarenss Celebration

On Saturday, April 13, 2024, from 2 - 3:30 pm, join us at the Glenn McNairy Branch to kick off Autism Acceptance Month with a celebration of vehicles - trucks, trains, buses, cars, and more!  At this event, you can:  “Touch a Truck” in the library’s parking lot with city vehicles, including the EcoBus, a fire truck, a recycling truck, and a police car.  Meet representatives from local organizations and City of Greensboro departments to learn about resources available to families.  Enjoy sensory-friendly crafts and activities, including a toy “car wash” in the library’s fenced garden.   This is an inclusive event open to everyone of all ages.


Glenn McNairy Branch, Greensboro Public Library

4860 Lake Jeanette Road

Greensboro, NC 27455

336-373-2015

Town of Leland Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources

Saturday Sunshine

For individuals ages 16+ who have mild to moderate cognitive disabilities. Guardian or helped participation is strongly encouraged. The first 6-week program will be focusing on movement from Mar 4 - Apr 22. The second 6-week program will be focusing on drawing from May 13 - Jul 1.


Town of Leland Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources

1212 Magnolia Village Way

Leland, NC 28451 

910-274-9206

ABS Kids

Sensory-Friendly Summer Fest

We are excited to host you and your family at our free Sensory-Friendly Summer Fest event on Saturday, July 13, 2024, from 9 AM - 12 PM EDT in Charlotte, NC!  We'll have fun for the whole family including face painting, arts & crafts, and more!  Hope to see you there!


ABS Kids

9720 South Tryon St. Suite A

Charlotte, NC 28273

Marbles Kids Museum

Marbles Sensory Friendly Playtime

FREE event exclusively for kids with disabilities and their families to experience Marbles in a calmer, quieter environment. Sensory Friendly Playtime occurs monthly throughout the year!


Marbles Kids Museum

201 East Hargett Street

Raleigh, NC 27601

919-834-4040

BlueSprig Pediatrics

Sensory Friendly Carnival - 1 Year Anniversary

This is BSP Raleigh's 1 years anniversary party!  The event is free to enter for face painting, games and prizes. The community we serve (children on the Autism Spectrum  Disorder spectrum) may have certain sensory sensitivities, so the event  will be sensory-friendly in that we will not be playing music, we will  make sure not to have bright or flashing lights and we will be  featuring games that encourage sensory exploration. There will be a food truck parked outside for guests to purchase food from.


BlueSprig Pediatrics

5932 Sandy Forks Rd, suite 101

Raleigh, NC 27609

984-275-4290

SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium

Sensory Friendly Sundays

Join SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium for Sensory Friendly Sundays, the 2nd Sunday of Every Month from 10 AM - 11 AM!   


Enjoy the aquarium one hour before the public for a sensory friendly underwater journey. We welcome all families with children on the autism spectrum or children with sensory processing disorders to this event.


The aquarium has been adjusted to best reduce sensory triggers throughout each exhibit of the aquarium. We have also created a safe place or comfort room, which can be utilized at any time.


SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium

8111 Concord Mills Blvd.

Concord, NC 28027

855-450-0512

Cotton Bean Farms

Baby Goat Playdates

Spend 45 minutes in the goat pasture with baby goats and dogs. You will get to pet and snuggle them. All the goats are friendly and love people.  Fun for all ages!


By appointment only and private playdates are available!


(From Be Like Buddy: The benefits of human/animal interactions for children with autism are being studied with great optimism. Here are three such articles: 1, 2, 3)


Cotton Bean Farms

29631 Herrin Grove Road

Mt. Pleasant, NC 28124

704-941-7944

McDowell County Public Library

Sensory Story Time

From the website: The first Saturday of each month!  Sensory Story Time is an all-ages program created for the families of children with special needs. Our goal each story time is to engage the senses through interactive books, songs encouraging movement, and other exciting sensory activities.  Please call the Marion Branch at 828-652-3858 to register or stop by our library.

Marion Library

90 W Court St
Marion, NC 28752

828-652-3858

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Sensory Friendly Night

From the website: 

  • Thursday, May 24, 2018

  • 5:30pm - 8:00pm

For families and visitors requiring special accommodations, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Exploration Center will stay open late for visitation during a quieter evening. There will be plenty of fun activities, scientists and live animals, our featured exhibition “Mazes & Brain Games,” plus much more.

Optional event registration. Those who register will receive a schedule of event activities and other preparatory materials, such as social stories and sensory maps, one week in advance. For special accommodations such as American Sign Language or Deaf-Blind interpretation, requests must be made no less than three weeks in advance.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

11 West Jones Street

Raleigh, NC 27601

919-707-9800

Jump Street Indoor Trampoline Park

Special Needs Days

Special Needs days are the first Saturday of the month. They turn down/off the music and they will make an exception to allow outside food, if needed. The first hour of jumping is solely for special needs families and parents/guardians jump for free.

Jump Street

1111 Walnut ST.
Cary, NC 27511

919-234-0722

Carowinds

Fun For All

You may be asking yourself whether Carowinds is appropriate for guests with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or whether your loved one on the spectrum will be able to handle the theme park experience. Carowinds has taken steps to be well-prepared to welcome and provide accommodations for all types of disabilities, including autism and related disorders. To continue to provide equal access for all guests, be aware that all guests with mobility impairments or ASD will now receive a Ride Boarding Pass with wait times. Please review the Boarding Pass Program for more details.

Carowinds

14523 Carowinds Blvd

Charlotte, NC 28273

704-588-2600

Children's Theater of Charlotte

Sensory-Friendly Performances

Children's Theatre of Charlotte offers a sensory-friendly performance for each of our Mainstage productions, modified for families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. At the performance, theatre lighting and sound will be softened and the house lights will dim but stay on. Guests will also have extra room in the house to move around as needed during the performance. Quiet spaces, fidgets and headphones will also be available.

Children's Theatre of Charlotte trains all staff to meet the needs of those attending. Before attending the performances, families can walk through virtual tours online and get to know ImaginOn’s public space including the interior of the McColl Family Theatre and the Wells Fargo Playhouse. Parents can download a variety of resources to help them prepare their family for the show.

We create Resource Guides for each of our Productions - a general Resource Guide with activities and background information on the show - plus two guide specfic to our Sensory-Friendly Performances, one for Parents and one for Children. 

Children's Theater of Charlotte

ImaginOn

300 E. Seventh Street

Charlotte N.C. 28202

704-973-2828

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

Turtle Dance Music & AutismFriendlyShows.com

Turtle Dance Music & AutismFriendlyShows.com

Turtle Dance Music and AutismFriendlyShows.com helps kids come out  of their shells with autism-friendly music, bubble and comedy concerts.  Our 30-45 minute concerts are perfect for special events for autism  centers, early learning centers, education conferences and schools! We  play over 60 different instruments including guitar, banjo, didgeridoo,  beatboxing, loopstations and it's funnier than having Jim Carrey or  Robin Williams visit your school. We also do sensory-friendly activities  like big GIANT bubbles! 


We travel all over the country and have a  block-booking pricing structure that will make our fees workable for  your budget. All of our instructors have graduate degrees in special  education, autism intervention, early childhood development and music  therapy. This program is solely for entertainment and special events and  not for private or group therapy services.


Check us out at https://www.TurtleDanceMusic.com, https://www.Youtube.com/TurtleDanceMusic, or Info@TurtleDanceMusic.com


973-493-2326

Spectrum Sailing

Free Autism Sailing Camps

We are the only national autism sailing program.  Spectrum Sailing travels the country to multiple cities offering FREE sailing camps to local kids.


847-863-3059

Glass Slipper Initiative

Summer Art Paradise

Join Glass Slipper Initiative and Friends of Children with Special Needs for a free accommodating online art event for children with disabilities! It will be on July 22nd from 10 AM to 12 PM, where we'll have multiple stations for different crafts for any skill level. All you'll need is paper, scissors, and some coloring supplies! Sign up at bit.ly/GSI-Summer.  If you can't make the event, but you'd like to be notified about other ones in the future, go to glassslipperinitiative.org and click "sign up" to join our mailing list for future events and opportunities for your kids.

RockonMusic School

RockonMusic Lessons

Use the positive power of music to learn to play  instruments, sing and create. Each one-on-one session is tailored to the  individual's skills and motivations. I specialize in those impacted by  autism or other disabilities. Live Westchester & Putnam Counties, NY  and on Zoom, anywhere....since 2016.


RockonMusicSchool

914-489-0520

Proud to Be Me

Free Dance Therapy Classes for Children with Developmental Disabilities!


This dance class is designed for elementary and middle schoolers with any intellectual, developmental, or sensory impairments! Our beginner-level dance and movement classes currently take place through Zoom and provide a fun outlet for children to let out energy and meet new people. The free class is also designed to help refine and improve things like motor skills, concentration, social/communication abilities, and general happiness.


More information on website (linked above).


Proud to Be Me

734-660-7136

Alamo Theatre

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.

We Rock the Spectrum Kid's Gym

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.

Autism Eats

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!

Cobb Theatres

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.

Marcus Theaters

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.

Urban Air Adventure Park

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.

Studio Movie Grill

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.

Regal Cinemas

My Way Matinee

Sensory friendly movie screenings with sounds lower, lights brighter.

​Check the link above for dates and locations.

AMC Theaters

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.

Major Airports

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.

Sky Zone

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.

Chuck E. Cheese

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.

iFly

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.

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