Written By: Camille A. Ponce, M.Ed, BCBA
Summertime is upon us in the sunshine state! We here at BCOTB, know how hard both our clients and their family’s work each and every day to maintain routines and consistency. The end of the school year approaching doesn’t mean there will be nothing to do! There are a wide variety of activities in the Tampa Bay area tailored for children with exceptional needs no matter what their passions are that will be sure to create memories, expose them to new experiences, and work on generalizing the skills they’ve been working on all year long!
AMC Sensory Friendly Movies
AMC has partnered with Autism Society to provide sensory friendly films on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. Movies are shown with the lights up, volume down, and freedom to allow your child to enjoy the movie with no fear of judgement. Click the link below to find a list of participating theaters and movies shown on these special days.
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium is just the place to see your favorite baby sharks (do do do) and other sea creatures! In addition to their exhibits, there are splash pads and playground outside of the gift shop and Rey Café so be sure to bring a change of clothes. If you’re lucky you may even see a cruise ship leaving the port next door! Click below to see the social story found on the Florida Aquarium website that outlines what your child can expect on their visit and prep them before you go! A limited amount of sensory friendly gear can also be requested at guest services which include headphones and sunglasses.
The home of the world’s second most famous mouse, offers Sensory Sensitive Sundays at participating locations which include no admission fees, dimmed lighting, and music turned off or on a low volume. Chuck E. himself will be making limited appearances as well.
Glazer’s Children’s Museum
The beautiful Glazer’s Children Museum located next to Curtis Hixon park hosts a special monthly event called Sunshine Sundays the last Sunday of every month from 10:00am-1:00pm. This event is $5 for general admission and provides a museum experience with lights and sounds turned down, sensory adapted tools, and community resources for families. Special unique activities are scheduled for every event. Click the link below for additional dates and details.
Sky Zone Tampa
Bouncy, Bouncy, Bouncy, Bouncy, FUN, FUN, FUN, FUN, FUN! They sky is the limit at Sky Zone Tampa. Think trampolines but on a massive scale! Sky Zone Tampa offers sensory friendly time from 9:00am-10:00am the 2nd Saturday of every month. The 60-minute jump pass is $11.99 per jumper and allows one helper to accompany them. An amazing way to get the wiggles out on a rainy (or sweltering hot) day.
City of Tampa Parks
The city of Tampa has a plethora of beautiful (and free!) parks. Parents can work on exposing and generalizing children to new parks and explore what different ones may have to offer. CARD at USF has partnered with the city of Tampa to provide social stories for a variety of parks in Hillsborough County. Click the link below and find a list of social stories under PARK EXPERIENCE STORIES.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park
Lions, and Tigers, and Bears oh my! Can your child quiz you on the animal kingdom? Does he or she love identifying animals and their habitats? Look no further than Zoo Tampa, formerly known as Lowry Park Zoo. Zoo Tampa offers visual aids at the front gate as well as sensory friendly tips, an autism-friendly map that allows you to write a schedule for your visit, as well as a social story about the sights, sounds, and smells (yuk!) your child may experience on their visit. Click the visitor info page below and scroll down to AUTISM to access the links!
Splash Pals USF Tampa
Summertime is the perfect time to teach your little guppy some essentials and safety skills near and in the water. Splash Pals is a therapeutic and aquatic recreation program for children, teens, and adults with special needs. They offer a weekly Wednesday classes at USF with no age limits and siblings are welcome to enroll too!