Special Needs

Reimagining Sensory-Friendly Play at Knock Knock Children’s Museum

Sensory play can ignite imaginative and independent play for children by simulating a play experience that incorporates the five senses while building motor skills, creativity, mindfulness, and brain development. Often, sensory play involves noises, textures, tastes, and other things that may stimulate the five senses. This type of play environment is an important addition to kid-friendly spaces and an effective tool for children’s overall development. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, and other special needs, however, sensory play can be an overwhelming experience, and cause anxiety and meltdowns. This is why a sensory-friendly time is an important modification to include in kid-friendly spaces. At Knock Knock Children’s Museum, the museum does just that. 

A Play Environment for All Kinds of Children
The Knock Knock Children’s Museum is specially designed to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn through play. There are 18 learning zones throughout the facility, including hands-on activities, roleplay, literacy, language and early language, and signage and labels. There’s a grocery store, restaurant, garage, veterinary clinic, workshop, and infant/toddler section, all featured on an open floor plan which allows for self-guided play. In addition to the standard features at Knock Knock, there are many adaptive features at the museum, including special guidebooks, videos, and a Sensory Learning Zone Map. 

The museum partners with McMains Children’s Developmental Center to make Knock Knock even more accessible to children with diverse abilities. They offer one-of-a-kind Ability Bags and Ability Boxes to provide adaptive play experiences for 10 of their 18 Learning Zones. These bags are equipped with a communication book, a map of the museum, a visor with a laser pointer, and a special button to allow children to enjoy Knock Knock to their fullest potential. 

Each box is equipped with tools, utensils, and easy-to-set-up machines perfectly designed to enhance each zone in the museum. These tools and resources are an important way to help children enjoy each of the ten zones at their own pace and without the need for a staff facilitator. These tools are available free of charge with an active membership or purchase of general admission tickets. 

Play 4 All
Knock Knock hosts free, quarterly Play 4 All–an inclusive, “after-hours” event tailored to children with disabilities and special needs, along with their families, caregivers, and therapists. Play 4 All is in partnership with organizations like the McMains Children’s Developmental Center, The Emerge Center, the School for the Visually Impaired, and Blind Grace. This event features a sensory-friendly environment with low lighting, reduced noise, and adaptive equipment––ensuring all children can enjoy the museum experience. If a family plans to attend Play 4 All, registration is required to help staff plan and tailor the event to meet a child’s special needs. 

The Knock Knock Children’s Museum is specially designed to ensure every child has the experience they deserve. In addition to all of the above, Knock Knock offers:

For more information about sensory-friendly options at Knock Knock Children’s Museum, visit knockknockmuseum.org.

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