Sensory-Friendly Events And Special Needs Activities

Welcome to our calendar of local sensory-friendly events, activities, movies and shopping hours. This is a list of sensory-friendly events taking place near Halton, Hamilton, Niagara and the Waterloo Region. Whether you are a person with sensory sensitivities, or a caregiver looking for inclusive activities for your loved ones, we hope this list will be helpful in finding events that suit your needs.

Our calendar lists sensory-friendly movies and shows, events and event sensory-friendly shopping times at local businesses.

Special Events and Fun Activities for Kids with Special Needs

Many kids and adults in our community experience sensory sensitivities. Whether it be from autism, ADHD, or other sensory processing disorders, needs vary from person to person. For these individuals, attending events such as concerts, movies, and sports games can be overwhelming and sometimes even impossible due to lights and loud noise. However, in recent years, there has been a growing movement towards creating spaces that cater to these needs. These events and activities typically feature modified lighting and sound levels, designated quiet areas, and other accommodations to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all attendees.

Here is a round-up of sensory-friendly locations and details on what they offer special needs families to make their visit more comfortable.

Sensory-Friendly Play Places and Attractions

We Rock The Spectrum Oakville was designed specifically with special needs families in mind. We Rock The Spectrum offers a play place where everyone is welcome, and no one ever has to say sorry. Visitors will have fun with their play structure, adaptable swings, and zipline. Be sure to check out their calming room and camps created to support kids on the spectrum.

The Westdale Cinema in Hamilton hosts sensory-friendly movies. During these specific times, they dim the lights and lower the volume. They also offer Open Captioning for deaf or hard-of-hearing movie-goers. These special movie times skip the advertisements and movie previews and start the movie right away.

Burlington Public Library offers visitors Sensory Kits to use while in the library. These kits contain noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, and sensory fidget toys. Sensory kits are free to use in the library and are available at 6 of the 7 BPL branches.

Sobey’s grocery stores have set times each week that they refer to as “sensory hours”. During these times, their lights are dimmed and music is turned way down or off. You can find your local stores and more info on sensory-friendly shopping hours at Sobey’s here.

Flying Squirrel in Hamilton hosts a sensory-friendly day on the first Tuesday of every month. Every day, Flying Squirrel offers guests with special needs a rate of $8 per hour, with free admission for one assisting caretaker or parent. 

Cineplex movie theatres offer sensory-friendly screenings. This program provides a sensory-friendly environment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families. Enjoy newly released films in a “lights up, sound down” environment in theatres across Canada.

Major Attractions

Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto has been designed at a certified Autism centre. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada hosts monthly sensory-friendly hours throughout the year, which will offer increased lighting, a music-free environment and a quiet room for guests who require a break. These monthly sensory-friendly days were developed in partnership with Autism Ontario and will occur monthly. They accept the Acces 2 card and are Accessibility Certified as well.

Have You Got Your Access 2 Card?

“The Access 2 card is for people of all ages and types of permanent disabilities who require the assistance of a support person at hundreds of participating entertainment, cultural and recreational venues across Canada.” This card provides free admission for a support person to over 500 attractions and locations nationwide. Click here to learn more about applying for and using an Access 2 card.

Are you hosting an event that caters to the needs of children with disabilities or sensory processing disorders? We would love to include it in our list. Listing an event is free and easy thanks to our submission form.

Upcoming Special Needs and Sensory-Friendly Events, Movies and Shopping Hours

Are you hosting an event that fits this list? We would love to include it. Listing an event is free and easy! Please add it to our calendar.

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