The hustle and bustle that comes along with a visit to a business that caters to our littlest friends can be tough on a kid with special needs. That’s why some local businesses block off specific times where the noise is dialed back, lights are dimmed, crowds are kept small and kids are, well, free to be themselves! Read on to learn about businesses that keep special needs kids in mind when developing their programming.

Dinner & A Movie: Studio Movie Grillphoto: Studio Movie Grill

Special Needs Screenings at Studio Movie Grill
Studio Movie Grill hosts family-friendly movies free for children with special needs and their siblings with the purchase of an adult ticket. These special screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered. Don’t worry if your movie date likes to stay on the move, children are free to move around, talk and even dance in the aisle. All screenings are shown at 11 a.m.

Nov. 12, Trolls
Nov. 19, Doctor Strange
Nov. 26, Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them
Dec. 3, Moana
Dec. 24, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Dec. 31, Sing

Studio Movie Grill
301 Rice Lake Square
Online: (check back often for dates beyond the ones we listed)

Play for All at Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago Children’s Museum is committed to providing exhibits, programs and public spaces that are inclusive and interactive for all families. On the second Saturday of every month from 9 a.m.-10 a.m., they invite children and families with disabilities to come and experience playful, multisensory exhibits for a special private hour inside the museum. The first 250 visitors to register receive FREE admission.  CCM opens to the public at 10 a.m. and Play For All families are welcome to stay and continue exploring the museum all day. Note: Pre-registration is required.

Chicago Children’s Museum
700 E. Grand Ave.
Navy Pier

Reach for the Clouds at Sky High Sports
On the first Tuesday of every month, Sky High Sports turns off the music, dims the lights and dials down the distractions for the comfort of their guests. Jump sessions for kids with special needs and their families is a passion project for Sky High founder Jerry Raymond. The father of a special needs son, Jerry has witnessed how jumping can help improve motor and sensory skills, social interaction and overall fitness for kids and young adults.

Sky High Sports
6424 Howard St.
2244 Corporate Lane

Dupage Childrens Museum Bubble Bashphoto: DuPage Children’s Museum

Spend Your Third Thursday with DuPage Children’s Museum
On the Third Thursday each month, DuPage Children’s Museum incorporates special resources and programing for visitors with accessibility or medical issues. You’ll find regularly scheduled activities like trained comfort dog visits, DCM Studio sensory art projects and after school programming with specialists to assist with specific IEP and at-home goals and objectives that involve playing. One-on-one caregivers or therapists receive a complimentary admission ticket when accompanying a child requiring medical assistance.

If you find a member of your crew needs a break from the action, let a DCM worker show you to the Respite Room. You’ll find a soft couch, dimmed blue lights and a calming marble wall full of light and touch sensations. TIP: After school and early evening are often quieter times for family or therapeutic visits.

DuPage Children’s Museum
301 N. Washington St.

Airtastic Play Land
Music Free Mondays is a day where kids (ages 1-14) can utilize gross motor skills bouncing, climbing and balancing in a space that’s free of the typical music that accompanies a day at Airtastic. The cost is $7.65 per kid for an hour of play and no reservations are required.

Airtastic Play Land
850 S. Frontenac

Do you have tips for our friends with special needs? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers