Columbus has fun activities, events, and offerings for ALL. It is an inclusive city, and we want to make it easier to find activities that are disability friendly and sensory friendly in Columbus for those living with disabilities, special needs, and autism spectrum disorders.
We need your help! This resource is new, and we want to gather as many fun activities as we can, so please comment or email email@example.com if you are aware of ongoing or single events that are inclusive to all abilities.
Activities for all
DanceAbility classes at Leap of Faith Dance Company
Leap of Faith Dance Company in Westerville is a nonprofit organization serving the central Ohio region. They are in their second year of offering Ballet and Hip Hop geared toward special needs students (ages 7 to 24). The DanceAbility classes are taught by certified integrative instructors who have a passion for this community and for dance! It is amazing to see how these students blossom when given the correct tools! For more information, you can visit the Leap of Faith Dance website.
Empower Sports at The Ohio State University
Empower Sports at The Ohio State University is a free community program that helps athletes with special needs develop social skills, self-esteem and overall well being. Events will bring Ohio State students together with our athletes to learn new games each week, with a focus on making sure all participants are having fun! Sessions fill up quickly.
Sensory Friendly Series at New Albany Symphony
Saturday at the Symphony Sensory Friendly concerts are designed for those on the autism spectrum, our friends in the dementia/Alzheimer’s community, or for those audience members needing a more relaxed concert experience. Performances are never longer than an hour and include pre-concert lobby activities.
During these concerts, audience members can feel free to move around, talk and BYO reinforcements and motivational systems. House lights will be turned on but dimmed, and “chill-out” zones, will be available in the lobby for those needing a break. Single tickets are $8 each – no ticketmaster fees if purchased at the door.
- Saturday, December 21, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. Santa and the Symphony
- Saturday, March 14, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. O-H-I-O
- Saturday, April 25, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. MEET JOANNA FRANKEL
Sensory Friendly Movies
AMC Sensory-Friendly Films are geared towards enjoying an outing to the theatre in a safe and accepting environment. The theatres will have the lights up, sound turned lower, and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing! The series will feature four showings per month, on the second and fourth Tuesday and Saturday.
Family-friendly movies will be shown on Saturday mornings, and the Tuesday evening showing are films that may appeal to a mature audience on the autism spectrum. See schedule here; regular admission applies
Marcus Theatres hosts sensory friendly movie outings that are welcoming to all! The Reel Movies for Real Needs series features an inclusive environment, which makes it possible for families with special needs children to go to the movies together.
These first-run movies will be shown on select Saturdays at 10:30, locally at Crosswoods and Pickerington. To purchase tickets, click on the movie poster on the website and choose the locations and the Reel Movies for Real Needs showing (always at 10:30).
Gateway Film Center wants to make it easier for families and individuals with autism and developmental disabilities to enjoy a trip to the movies with Sensory-Friendly Films.
Screenings are played at a lower volume and the lights are kept up. It’s an inclusive environment that encourages expression and prohibits “shushing”. Tickets to the screenings are free and are presented in conjunction with The Ohio State University Nisonger Center.
On the 3rd Saturday of each month, The Strand Theatre provides showings for children, families, and adults in the community who may benefit from an alternative movie experience, such as patrons on the autism spectrum or those living with other special needs. Lights are up, sound is down, and singing dancing, and movement are welcome. Closed Captioning and Assisted-Listening Devices are available. Tickets can be purchased at the Strand Theatre Box Office. The Box Office opens 30 minutes prior to the first show time daily.
- The Grinch: Saturday, December 21st at 10am. Doors open at 9:30am. Free small popcorn and free canned beverage provided by the Autism Society of Central Ohio. After the show, kids can have a free photo taken with Sensitive Santa! See FB details here.
Indoor play places
We’ve gathered a huge list of fun indoor play places and activities for kids in Columbus. Every option isn’t suitable for kids with special needs, but there are plenty of places to check out. We hope you can find some options that are perfect for your child’s needs, but We Rock the Spectrum is particularly recommended.
- We Rock the Spectrum: Oak Creek Center, 1250 E Powell Rd, Lewis Center, OH 43035 614-396-8773
This amazing place offers an environment full of sensory equipment that is specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders while they play and form friendships with their peers of all abilities. Open play includes includes full use of the gym with all equipment (swings, crash mats and pillows, zipline, trampoline, play structure, sensory toys), and an arts & crafts section that has: beading, painting, lanyards and much more.
See upcoming disability- and sensory-friendly Columbus events below!
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Saturday, December 21, 2019
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Sensory Friendly Columbus Links
The ASCO offers an amazing plethora of information, resources, referrals, family activities, support and more for individuals and families living with autism in Central Ohio.