Eight Local Spaces Accessible for Kids with Special Needs

Local theaters, museums, parks, and play spaces have expanded their programs and facilities to make family fun more accessible for kids with special needs.


The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati

TCTC is offering its third season of sensory-friendly shows, including minimized effects, show preparation materials, and more, designed for autistic children and anyone else who might benefit. These shows are weekend-only. thechildrenstheatre.com

Mt. Airy Forest

The state’s most wheelchair-accessible tree house, aptly named Everybody’s Treehouse, is nestled in this Mt. Airy park. Though most tree houses sit at the top of a ladder, this one is situated among winding ramps attached to the trees. Families can enjoy it for free any time the park is open. The ramps connect to the parking lot for ADA compliance. cincinnatiparks.com

Cincinnati Zoo

The zoo’s Access for All program provides special accommodations for guests with disabilities, including sensory maps, adult changing tables, planning maps, and visual supports. Developed with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, it provides training and resources for zoo staff. Caregivers get free admission and a sensory-friendly restroom is slated to open in 2019. cincinnatizoo.org

Cincinnati Art Museum

Accessibility tours bring art to life for children with disabilities. Most tours and special programs include hands-on art experiences and a sensory map.

ASL interpreted tours are available for deaf or hard-of- hearing guests. Visually disabled museum-goers are invited to explore the museum through touch. cincinnatiartmuseum.org

Recreations Outlet

Recreations Outlet, in Milford, carries Playtopia brand playsets, which are always free of rust and structural posts, making them safe for all children. They’re also ADA compliant. The cool thing: You can show up at Recreations Outlet and pay to play (only $6–$8), which is perfect on a rainy day. recreationsoutlet.com


Blue Manatee

Many bookstores o er story times, but blue manatee regularly offers sign language-lead readings. Staffed by store employees and community members, story time on the third Saturday of every month is dedicated to exploring books in sign language. These events provide engaging and fun story times for deaf or hard-of-hearing children and their families. bluemanateebooks.com

Carol Ann’s Carousel

Each animal on the carousel was designed with Cincinnati history and landmarks in mind, but two special horses were designed for wheelchair access. Located in Smale Riverfront Park, Carol Ann’s Carousel provides additional fun for children with wheelchairs, who can experience the ride among the horses, pigs, and bearcats. cincinnatiparks.com

Puzzle Pieces

Opened by the mother of an autistic child, this shop specializes in toys and therapy items. Customers can touch the items before buying, which is helpful for nonverbal children. A sensory room with bubble walls and tubes provides touch-specific play. Once a month, Puzzle Pieces hosts guest speakers for parents, as well as sensory-friendly activities like crafts and birthday parties. puzzlepiecesllc.com

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