Winter Outings

Tired of sitting at home but unsure where to go with your child? Below are some holiday themed events happening around Chicago, as well as some tips for family outings no matter where you go!

Tips for a Successful Outing:

  • Call ahead to wherever you are planning on going, be it a restaurant, movie theatre, event space, or even a store. You can inquire about peak hours and the best times to come, expected noise levels and if they provide any special accommodations.
  • Some places provide a “quiet room” or relaxation room. This can be a great way for your child to regain regulation and modulate their environment while not having to leave the event.
  • Bring along a “just in case” bag with items that comfort your child. Call ahead to ensure there are no restrictions on bag size or what you’re able to bring into the venue.
  • Aim to attend certain places during non-peak hours to avoid large crowds.
  • Showing your child pictures of the venue and what to expect prior to attending an event can help prepare them! A social story may be appropriate, as well.
  • Advocate for your child. Your family deserves to have a great time wherever you are going! Consult with your child’s providers for specific strategies for your child.

Possible Upcoming Destinations:

THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride Sensory Friendly Performance
When: December 14th, 2019
Time: 12:10pm
Where: Chicago Union Station
Website: Click here
Rail Events Productions has worked to create a performance experience of THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride that is more enjoyable for families with children on the autism spectrum or with other sensory sensitivities. The show is similar to other departures, however, there will be some design changes to accommodate individuals with sensory sensitivities.

These changes will include:

  • Additional lighting on board the train
  • Limited flashing lighting effects
  • Softer audio levels
  • Limited startling or jolting audio effects
  • Quiet spaces on board the train and select cars that are designated Quiet Cars.
  • The event space in the Great Hall will open up for check in approximately 1.5 hours early to allow extra time for passengers to acclimate to the space.
  • A Social Story is available for interested passengers before their arrival. The Social Story will inform audience members about the sequence of the experience with pictures and language to help prepare children and families for what to expect.

Sensory Friendly Films at AMC (various locations)
When: Second and Fourth Saturday of Each Month
Time: Dependent on location
Website: Click here
AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! Our Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes, and don’t forget to share your family fun with #AMCSensoryFriendly.

Sensory Saturdays at the Field Museum
When: Jan. 25
Time: 9-10 AM
Where: Chicago Field Museum
Website: Click here
Field Museum opens the Crown Family PlayLab early just for families with special needs. While the playlab is geared toward young children, there are opportunities for children of all ages and abilities. Siblings, family members and caregivers welcome. 9-10 a.m. Free with advance registration, but space is limited. Register at accessibilityeducator@fieldmuseum.org.

Play for All at the Chicago Children’s Museum
When: Dec. 14
Time: 9 AM
Where: Chicago Children’s Museum
Website: Click here
Held the second Saturday of every month, children and families with special needs can experience Chicago Children’s Museum’s inclusive, multi-sensory exhibits and programs in a quiet environment. The museum opens one hour early – at 9 a.m. – for preregistered guests. The first 250 visitors to register receive free admission.