by Janet Jonus
There are many Sensory-Friendly/Autism-Friendly events in the Pittsburgh area. You can find all of the dates and times on the FamilyFunPittsburgh Calendar here: http://familyfunpittsburgh.com/events/ Just type “special needs” into the search area.
Updated April 28, 2019
Note: FamilyFunPittsburgh is aware Kennywood has announced they have received a Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation from the IBCCES. We are an autism-family. FamilyFunPittsburgh has been to Kennywood. We have reviewed the status of the certification. Most of the requirements for the certification are not in place at this time. Please see our complete review here:
1. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
The Children’s Museum has monthly Sensory Friendly afternoons on select Tuesdays from 100PM-500PM. The lights and sounds in the Museum are turned down and trained staff is on hand to assist. The Museum also has sound blocking headphones, weighted vests and blankets, and wrist assistance cuffs available on any visit. There are social stories available on their website. For more information, check here: https://pittsburghkids.org/visit/accessibility
The Children’s Museum is open to the general public during Sensory Hours but crowds are usually lighter on Tuesday afternoons.
2. Carnegie Science Center
The Carnegie Science Center has NEW Sensory Friendly hours and accommodations. The Science Center’s first Sensory Friendly Hours are scheduled for November 18th from 1000AM-100PM. Additional Sensory Sensitive Science Hours will also take place on the following Sundays in 2019: June 16 and October 20. Accommodations include lower lights and sounds, special exhibits, assistance from trained staff, calm down areas, fidgets, headphones, sunglasses, and more. The Science Center is open to the general public during Sensory Hours but crowds are usually lower on Sunday mornings. For more information, read the article here: http://familyfunpittsburgh.com/?p=2946
3. AMC Theater at the Waterfront
The AMC Theater at the Waterfront has Sensory-friendly showings of the most popular Family films on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month plus a showing of a “more mature” film on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. Accommodations include a lower sound level, lights that stay on in the theater (not full lights but enough to see), plus guests are welcome to get up and move around, even dance, to the movie.
For more information, check here: https://www.amctheatres.com/programs/sensory-friendly-films
4. Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust sponsors Sensory Friendly shows throughout the year. Sensory Friendly show accommodations are show-specific but they usually include dim lights, lowered sounds, reduced special effects (no strobes, loud sounds, bright lights, etc.), calm down areas, fidget toys, and a special needs-friendly environment where guest can get up and move around. For more dates and times, check out the FamilyFunPittsburgh calendar: http://familyfunpittsburgh.com/events/
The Trust has announced the Sensory-Friendly performance of Air Play at the Byham during the EQT Children’s Theater Festival. Air Play explores the air around us. Two siblings embark on a journey to find their future. They use giant pieces of fabric, umbrellas, balloons, confetti, and more while creating mesmerizing shapes and designs.
The performance is on Saturday at 130PM. The performance has modifications for those on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing disorder. Sounds will be muted, bright lights and surprises are eliminated, and house rules are relaxed.
5. Prime Stage Theatre
Prime Stage Theatre on Pittsburgh’s North Shore presents classic theater and plays. Prime Stage welcomes patrons with disabilities with special performances for the hearing disabled, blind, and individuals on the autism spectrum and with sensory-processing disorder.
Prime Stage Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. There is a Sensory-Friendly performance on May 11th at 100PM. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies with mistaken identities, a love triangle, and lots of laughter.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students under 18. For tickets:
6. Pittsburgh Ballet Theater
The PBT offers a Sensory Friendly performance to The Nutcracker. This year’s performance is on December 27, 2018 at 200PM. This performance welcomes all special needs guests and their families. Accommodations include house lights on in the theater, reduced sound, reduced special effects, fidgets, trained staff, a calm down area, and relaxed house rules so get up and move around if you need to. The PBT page with more information is here: https://www.pbt.org/performances-tickets/sensory-friendly-performances/ You will find social stories and other information on their website.
PBT also offers Adaptive Dance classes at their practice facility in the Strip District. Classes are limited to 15 students. Accommodations include adaptive dance techniques in ballet and creative movement, a relax mat for breaks, and you are allowed to have an aide or parent present to assist. Classes are taught by PBT Instructors who have special training in special needs. For more information, check here: https://www.pbt.org/pbt-school/school-year-programs/adaptive-dance/
7. Flight Fit N Fun Trampoline Park Bridgeville
Flight has a Sensory Friendly Jump on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month from 600-800PM. The sound is kept on low (it is usually very loud) and the lights are dimmer. There is trained staff monitoring the jumpers. Flight is open just for Special Needs during these times. The cost is $8.00 for one hour and $15.00 for two hours. One family member or caregiver can jump for free with the special needs guest. Flight has a large jumping area, a younger child play area, a laser maze (lots of fun), and a three ninja warrior courses. For more information, check here: https://www.flightfitnfun.com/locations/pittsburgh/
8. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
The PSO has a yearly Sensory Friendly Performance. The upcoming performance is for the March 30th, 2019 show at 230PM for Disney in Concert: A Tale as Old as Time. Accommodations include dim house lights, reduced sounds, fidgets, ear plugs, a calm-down area, a shortened 45-minute program, and the ability to get up and move around during the performance. Guests are encouraged to get up, clap, and dance and move to the music. ASL interpretation and closed captioning are also available. You can find social stories on the PSO website here: https://pittsburghsymphony.org/production/60274/sensory-friendly-concert
9. Little Lake Theater Canonsburg, PA
Little Lake Theater in Canonsburg offers Sensory Friendly performances throughout the year. Accommodations include house lights halfway up, reduced sound and light effects plus a warning when a sound or light effect may cause distress, a calm down area, trained staff, relaxed house rules that allow you to get up and move about plus sing and dance, and you are allowed to bring your own fidgets and comfort items. Little Lake has social stories, diagrams, and more on their website here: https://www.littlelake.org/sensory-friendly-performances
10. Pittsburgh CLO
The Pittsburgh CLO offers Creative Discovery Classes for children on the autism spectrum. Children learn in a supportive environment with specially trained staff. There are acting classes for kids 6-12 and musical theater classes for kids 6-17 (and an adult musical theater class for ages 18+). All classes are part of the CLO’s New Horizon Program. Each class is designed around the skills and talents of the students. Classes run in two sessions: September through January and January through May. For more information, check here: https://www.pittsburghclo.org/pages/new-horizons
11. Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh
The Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh have Storytime: Sensory Discoveries for children 3-5 years old. This program is for children with developmental disorders. The program has a story with stories, songs, and activities and is held at various library branches throughout the month. For more information, check here: https://www.carnegielibrary.org/event/storytime-sensory-discoveries-12/
12. Bounce U Zelienople
Bounce U has a Sensory Bounce on the last Monday of the month from 600-730PM. Accommodations include a limited number of people admitted (reduced crowds), reduced sounds, and trained staff. Bouncers are limited to special needs guests and their siblings. $8.50 per guest ages 2+ and $4.99 for guests 12-23 months. Reservations are required. Check the calendar here: https://www.bounceu.com/jacksons-pointe-pa/calendar/
If you have any Sensory Friendly activities to add to this list, please send it us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org