Sensory Friendly Experiences and Activities in the Ann Arbor Area

If you or your child has sensory processing issues, you know how overwhelming everyday life can be. Your child may become over-stimulated by smell, sight, sound, touch, taste, and body awareness or they may be under-stimulated and need to find more stimuli. 

It’s much easier to control the stimuli in your own home leaving the house can be stressful at best, and can often trigger tantrums or meltdowns that often your child cannot help. However, there is a growing movement to provide more sensory friendly spaces for people with sensory processing issues.

Check out these experiences and activities, predominantly in Washtenaw County, that you and your family can enjoy!

Universal Access Playground

In Gallup Park, this playground is explicitly inclusive and accessible, created so a variety of ages can interact together. It was also designed to be accessible for caregivers with disabilities.

The playground features three separate play areas that are meant to resemble various types of nature environments in Michigan. All areas are connected with ramps and sidewalks. Your child can enjoy the Woodland region, complete with a merry-go-round that accommodates wheeled mobility devices; the River Region, which features play structures and a fairy boat accessible to mobility devices; and the Prairie Region, which has swings built to accommodate a child swinging with their adult. 

Special Needs Swim Day

At Rolling Hills Water Park in Ypsilanti, on August 19 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. families and individuals with special needs can access the water park two hours before the general public, with special needs tubes available in the water park office.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the event or online at parksonline.ewashtenaw.org.

Sky Zone

There’s a Sky Zone in Canton which occasionally hosts sensory friendly events they dim the lights, turn down the music, and make it a quieter and gentler experience for children with special needs.

If you want to enjoy Sky Zone with your family without waiting, they have a variety of party packages that you can choose from consider putting together a sensory-friendly play date with your children’s friends!

Emagine

Photo from emagine-entertainment.com.

Emagine Theater in Saline and Canton hosts periodic sensory-friendly movies. They don’t modify the film in any capacity, but they keep the volume at a moderate level while keeping house lights on.

Guests can bring in a snack that they know they enjoy. Audience interaction (such as talking or moving during the film) is welcome, as is using electronic devices. 

Family Day at Beats and Eats festival

If you’re down for a drive to metro Detroit, you can check out this Family Day September 2-3 at the Soaring Eagle Arts, Beats and Eats festival.

You and your family get to go into the festival an hour before the general public is permitted and can experience a range of free events, including free parking, carnival rides, lunch and arts’n’crafts activity.

To be eligible for this program, one of your family members must have ASD. Check out the details here.

Potter Park Zoo

Photo from Pexels.

And if you’re down for a road trip to Lansing, the city boasts the state’s first certified sensory inclusive zoo, Potter Park! There are signs throughout the zoo showing visitors where headphone zones, sensory bags and quiet areas are located and they have a sensory map available as well!

You can pick up a sensory bag at the Welcome Center or at the Discovery Center, which have a sensory map, sunglasses, fidgets, verbal cue cards, headphones and VIP  lanyard. The playground features a picture symbol board so a child can feel supported when interacting with another person.

Any favorites you would like to add? Let us know in the comments!