It can be very difficult to find entertaining activities for your loved ones with sensory issues. It’s even harder to find events during the bustling holiday season. Here is a helpful list of fun local places to be with sensory-friendly activities for all to enjoy.
East Baton Rouge Parish Libraries:
Sensory Sensitivity Time takes place at multiple libraries each month to allow patrons to visit “without fear of sensory overload.” During these times, unnecessary light or sound elements will be turned off in the Children’s Room, and from the Children’s Service Desk, patrons can pick up noise-blocking headphones, sunglasses, and various fidget items to use while in the library. These items are also readily available during any children’s program and are available upon request from the Children’s Service Desk. Each library also offers noise-canceling headphones for adults upon request at the circulation desk.
Knock Knock Children’s Museum:
The museum is mindful of those with special needs and is an excellent spot for children to run, play, and explore! Braille picture books, weighted lap blankets, stuffed animals, and more are available for children with special needs. When a quiet space is needed, the Quiet Cabin offers sensory experiences and a spot to take a break.
BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo:
The Baton Rouge Zoo offers sensory bags complete with headphones, fidget toys, and other bits and ends to help communicate thoughts, needs, and feelings with others. Headphone Zone signs throughout the zoo indicate louder areas where patrons may want to wear their headphones. When everything gets too overwhelming, Quiet Areas offer a place to wind down for a break before continuing to explore.
Smoothie King Center:
The venue that hosts several music legends and sporting events offers several sensory-sensitive items to help people enjoy the activities. At the Guest Services Desk, they offer sensory bags free of charge.
Both Smoothie King Center and Caesars Superdome offer the same sensory inclusion.
The home of the New Orleans Saints, Caesars Superdome, offers sensory accessibility so everyone can experience a game. They offer designated entry gates that are quiet and less crowded for people with sensory sensitivities. For no cost, they have sensory bags that come with noise-canceling headphones, weighted lap pads, and fidget toys. People with sensory sensitivities are also allowed to exit and re-enter the venue.
Newcomb Art Museum:
Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane University is a free visual experience that offers quiet areas, headphones, and sensory bags for individuals with special sensory needs. The staff at Newcomb Art Museum are there to help if your child is feeling overwhelmed or needs a sensory bag.
The National WWII Museum:
Explore the past at the National WWII Museum and learn how historical events have impacted the world we live in today. The last Sunday of every month is Sensory Friendly Mornings. The museum modifies the exhibits so individuals of all ages can experience the historic museum from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum lowers the exhibits’ volume and offers sensory bags that have non-verbal cards, sunglasses, noise-canceling headphones, and fidget toys.
The Audubon Zoo is consistently rated one of the top zoos in the country because of its Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle along with other exotic habitats. Audubon Zoo focuses on creating an environment that everyone in the family can enjoy. They offer weighted lap pads and sensory bags that contain fidget toys, noise-canceling headphones, and other items that can help children with special sensory needs. There are also designated quiet zones throughout the zoo that allow people to regroup and have their own space.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas:
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas transports guests to the underwater world to see unique species and rare animals. In 2018, Audubon Aquarium became the first aquarium to become sensory friendly, and they continue to offer support for every child with special sensory needs. From quiet zones to sensory bags and weighted lap pads, every child will have the chance to enjoy the unique experience.
Audubon Louisiana Nature Center:
The Audubon Louisiana Nature Center is a marvel of modern architecture with plenty of space for your child to walk nature trails and participate in daily programs. The center offers sensory bags to help accustom your child to the new sounds and smells. Additionally, designated quiet areas offer a calm space to recharge, and “headphone zone” signage will warn you and your child that louder areas are ahead.
French Quarter Festival:
The French Quarter Festival is expected to run April 13th-16th next year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead to attend! This sensory-inclusive event is a chance for everyone to support local restaurants and businesses while enjoying the musical performances of local artists. Sensory bags with headphones are available at multiple locations, and a mobile sensory room (a S.A.V.E. vehicle) will be on-site to provide a safe decompression space.
Chuck E. Cheese:
Did you know that many Chuck E. Cheese restaurants across the nation offer Sensory Sensitive Sundays? Touted as a quieter dining and entertainment experience, participating stores open two hours early on the first Sunday of the month. They offer dimmed lighting, lowered or turned-off music and shows, a full menu, waived admission fees, the ability to play all of their arcade games and rides, and limited appearances by Chuck E. himself.
The movie theater chain partnered with the Autism Society to create their Sensory Friendly Film program. The family-friendly program is available on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. During these days, the lights are turned up and the sound is turned down, so children can get up, walk around, dance, and sing!
All in all, Louisiana is stepping up to offer inclusive events and activities for everyone to enjoy.