20 Fun Outings for Kids with Special Needs

These parks, theaters and attractions are great for children of all abilities.

Adventure Theatre


Stage performances and movie screenings can be overwhelming for some kids. The good news is that many theaters in our area have sensory-friendly productions that are specifically designed for families. These shows have lower general sound volume, dimmed lights (instead of complete darkness) in the seating areas, no unexpected flashes or loud noises, supportive staff on hand, and an understanding and expectation that audience members may talk, walk around, etc. Some use cues (such as raised glow sticks) to give easily startled children a heads up when a surprise is about to happen, and have designated quiet areas for kids who need to take a break.

Pro tip: Ask for seats near the aisle! If you are attending a non-sensory show, speak with the staff ahead of time and let them know you’re coming. Give them theopportunity to be as accommodating as possible.

AMC Sensory-Friendly Films

Pro tip: You may want to bring headphones. Even in the sensory-friendly screenings the sound was too loud for my son, who has autism.

7850e,  Tysons Corner Center

Adventure Theatre

Upcoming sensory-friendly and sign language-interpreted performances: Winnie the Pooh and The Cat in the Hat.

7300 MacArthur Blvd (Glen Echo Park), Glen Echo, Maryland

Imagination Stage

Sensory-friendly productions here have intentionally limited crowds and “seating holes” to allow space between families. The theater can also arrange pre-visits with a “social story,” video, and other preparatory materials for parents and children explaining what to expect. Upcoming sensory-friendly performances: Anatole: Mouse Magnifique and The Ballad of Mu Lan.

4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda, Maryland


The Keegan Theater (website photo)

The Keegan Theater

All shows at this Dupont Circle theater are designed to be welcoming to all! Watch the theater’s accessibility video.

1742 Church Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Sensory-friendly performances at the Kennedy Center promise lower sound levels, low lighting, reduced strobe lighting, designated quiet areas for breaks, and spaces that are specifically set aside for kids who want to stand and move around. Upcoming performances include The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963 and Voyagers: A Dance Among the Planets.

2700 F. St NW, Washington, D.C.

Regal Cinemas “My Way Matinee”

Per the theater’s website, “My Way Matinee gives everyone the opportunity to experience a movie with the lights turned up and the volume turned down. Guests are free to express themselves by singing, crying, dancing, walking around, talking or shouting while enjoying Hollywood’s latest films.”  Sensory friendly movies are offered at 10:30 am on the second and fourth Saturday of the month.

Locations in Rockville and Vienna

Categories: Parents & Kids