Having lived in the Chicago area most of my life, and raising a child on the Autism Spectrum, I wanted to put together a list of sensory-friendly tourist attractions, ongoing events and resources to help those with Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) enjoy everything our city and surrounding suburbs offer. While most of these could be found online already, I thought that having them all in one place would be beneficial! (Please note: this list is an ongoing labor of love and it was just started in September 2017. Please feel free to leave comments with any other resources you know of so I can add them to this list.)
Chicago Children’s Museum (Chicago)
- Play for All Events- held the second Saturday of every month (pre-registration required)
- The Storybook Guide– specifically designed for children with developmental disabilities, the guide describes each of Chicago Children’s Museum’s exhibits
- Museum map (includes areas to calm an overstimulated child)
- Assistive devices like sound-reducing headphones, personal museum schedules and visual rule cards are available at museum’s admission desk
The Field Museum (Chicago)
- Offers Sensory Saturdays, a sensory-friendly morning of hands-on exploration and discovery. Free with prior registration.
- The Field for All app- helps families and groups, including visitors with autism and disabilities, plan their visit. (Downloads- iOS & Android)
Museum of Science & Industry (Chicago)
- To request accommodations or get tips for visiting (like when the quietest time to visit is) call the museum at (773) 684-1414
Zoos & Aquariums
Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield)
- Visual Schedule Book
- Visual Schedule Book for Hamill Family Play Zoo
- Map of quiet space locations
- Butterflies! Social Story
- Dolphins in Action Social Story
- Living Coast Social Story
Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago)
- LPZ offers a list of things to know about each building’s sensory experience at the bottom of this page including information of crowds, noise, and smells.
Shedd Aquarium (Chicago)
- Play Well Days– sensory friendly LEGO® experience on the first Saturday of every month between 8:30am – 10:00am.
- Quiet spaces can be provided on request for guests sensitive to sensory stimuli.
Pump It Up (Orland Park)
- Sensory Jump is the first Monday of every month from 6:15pm – 8:15pm
AMC Theatres (Various Locations)
- Sensory Friendly Films are available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month.
Marcus Theatres (Various Locations)
- Reel Movies for Real Needs are available one or two Saturdays a month