Accessible Activities for Kids with Special Needs

Read next

Portland is filled with fantastic opportunities year-round for children of all abilities. But, if you’re looking for phenomenal spaces and activities for children with unique considerations, you’re in luck. Read on to discover activities, like low-sensory play time at the museum, accessible playgrounds and drama groups, the whole family can enjoy together.

photo: Harper’s Playbround via Portland Parks and Rec

Harper’s Playground
This fully inclusive playground is a favorite among families who find that their neighborhood playgrounds don’t provide the access that their littles need. Located at Arbor Lodge Park, Harper’s Playground is all about community, inclusion and play.

Arbor Lodge Park
2525 N Dekum St.

This brand new group offers creative drama and improvisation practice for youth on the Autism spectrum and other related diagnoses. Participants will use improvisation, storytelling and enacting real-life experiences to build social skills, practice flexible thinking and gain confidence. Parents have the flexibility to enroll their children in the age group that they feel will be the best fit. Currently meeting on Saturdays in 5-week sessions, check the website for the next session’s start date. Saturdays, 1-hour sessions, $125/5-week session, ages 8 and up.

210 SE Madison St.


photo: eyeliam via flickr creative commons

Portland Children’s Museum Access Play
Children of all abilities are welcome at PCM during all regular operating hours. Once each month, they open their doors to families with children experiencing disabilities (and their friends) for a low-key, low-sensory, less crowded play time. Who wouldn’t want access to the Play It Again Theater, Water Works or Outdoor Adventure minus the crowds? Check the upcoming dates on the website and enjoy a day at the museum.

4015 SW Canyon Rd.

Northwest Children’s Theater Sensory-Friendly Productions
Lights, camera, action! Taking littles to the theater opens up opportunities for exposure to the arts, building social skills and learning about appropriate audience behavior. For children with sensory sensitivities (such as difficulties with bright lights, loud noises and sudden, surprising bursts of volume or activity), the theater can be intimidating. So NWCTS has developed one sensory-friendly show into their calendar for almost every production in the upcoming season. Check the new show schedule and then give them a call to find out if there is a sensory-friendly production planned and snag your tickets.

1819 NW Everett St.


photo: Spectra Gymnastics

Spectra Gymnastics
Children of all ages love to leap, tumble and roll! At Spectra, the staff specializes in working exclusively with children affected by Autism and related developmental disorders. The lessons incorporate social and emotional education in a supportive and positive environment. As a new facility in the community, Spectra offers free comprehensive evaluations for all new families who are interested in enrolling. There is even an open gym option on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-noon.

8344 SW Nimbus Ave.

What’s your favorite accessible activity for the family? Share with us in the comments below!
—Marianne Walters