International Museum Day is the perfect excuse to plan your next museum trip with the kids; however, a trip to the museum can become overwhelming quick for some. Luckily, many local Texas museums have specific sensory-friendly days and year-round sensory-friendly options so all can enjoy a trip to the museum.
If your favorite museum isn’t listed below, we’ve also included a few tips on how you can make a trip to the museum that much more enjoyable for your children with sensory sensitivities.
The following resources are available to any and all visitors with sensory sensitivities and/or Autism Spectrum Disorders. Use the resources below to prepare for your museum visit or use them while you’re there to create an individualized museum experience for you and your family.
Use their Visual Vocabulary Cards to make visiting new spaces and transitioning between museum halls easier. You can also use these cards to create a visual schedule of your day at HMNS!
Their Sensory Guide provides information on which exhibits meet your or your child’s sensory needs, including noise levels, visual stimulation, and tactile components.
HMNS Exploration Planner
Use our Exploration Planner to let your child know what to expect during your day at the museum, from waiting in line at the box office to exploring our many exhibit halls.
Our Sensory Backpacks include fidgets, stuffed animals, ear defenders, and sunglasses, among other things, to ensure that you have a comfortable, sensory-friendly visit with us.
San Antonio, Texas
The Do-Seum provides a supportive space, specialized staff, and inclusive opportunities to engage and support your learner. They currently provide the accommodations below:
- Smaller, controlled crowds to create a calm, uncrowded environment ideal for families in need of accommodations for high sensitivity to sensory stimuli, limited mobility, and generally in need of a calmer, quieter space.
- Accommodating accessories of your choice to make your experience suit your needs. Sunglasses, headphones, and earplugs are all available at the front desk, free of charge.
- Assistive signage to help guide your family towards learning environments that best suit your needs—marking high sensory, low sensory, calming, and tactile areas.
- Exhibit modifications to create calmer environments for families with high sensitivities to stimuli, including decreased noise, soothing light changes, and more.
- Specialized staff to support your family’s learning and play needs; staff are specially trained through consultation with community partners by Any Baby Can and the Region 20 Special Education Department.
- Customized creative activities, created in collaboration with Artful Start and their Art Education Director, will provide tactile art experiences to engage your learner’s creativity in comfortable, supportive ways.
Thinkery is committed to providing an accessible and interactive experience for all. During Sensory Friendly Hours, Thinkery extends a special invitation to learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or other special needs to explore Thinkery with their families.
A typical visit to Thinkery can be challenging for those who feel overwhelmed by large crowds and excessive stimuli. In acknowledgment of this, the galleries will be modified to reduce extra stimuli and ticket sales will be limited to reduce crowding.
The Dallas Museum of Art offers a downloadable Social Story for you to use before your visit, along with other resources for visitors with sensory processing disorders.
To download a Social Story about visiting the DMA, click here.
If your favorite museum was not listed above, don’t let it stop you from venturing out! Below are a few tips from Autism Speaks that can help your child with sensory sensitivities.
Autistic people can experience both hypersensitivity (over-responsiveness) and hyposensitivity (under-responsiveness) to a wide range of stimuli. Most people have a combination of both.
Examples of accommodations for hypersensitivity:
- Using light covers, sunglasses or a hat under fluorescent lights
- Wearing ear plugs or headphones in noisy environments
- Working in spaces with a closed-door or high walls
- Avoiding strongly scented products
- Choosing foods that avoid aversions to textures, temperatures or spices
- Wearing soft, comfortable clothing
- Adjusting schedules to avoid crowds
Examples of accommodations for hyposensitivity:
- Visual supports for those who have difficulty processing spoken information
- Using fidget toys, chewies and other sensory tools
- Arranging furniture to provide safe, open spaces
- Taking frequent movement breaks throughout the day
- Eating foods with strong flavors or mixed textures
- Weighted blankets, lap pads or clothing that provides deep pressure