7 Places for Energetic Kids with Special Needs / DFW jump parks and more with special needs accommodations
Ask any parent what they want most, and the answer will likely be more sleep — and that means finding places for active kids to use up all that extra energy. The challenge comes in finding a place that is available in all kinds of weather, and for kiddos with special needs, there is the even greater challenge of finding a facility that is welcoming and ready to accommodate individual modifications. Don’t lose any more sleep over this — we’ve picked several places where extra energy and special kids are always welcome.
It’s a Sensory World
The Basics: At the intersection between therapy and typical recreation, you will find It’s a Sensory World. This learning gym includes everything parents wish they could have at home for rich sensory experiences. Targeted skills in sensory regulation, fine and gross motor development, and behavioral control are addressed in a safe and nurturing environment.
Special-Needs Specifics: Parent Guided Sensory Circuits are therapist-created activities designed to address sensory issues in a way that seems like typical play. With parents as cheerleaders, and even siblings as encouraging models, kids complete a rotational series of tasks that work muscle groups and sensory-stimulating needs. While kids are playing in the sensory-rich environment, parents have the added bonus of learning along with their child. Open gym times are weekdays from 9:30am-5:30pm or Saturday mornings from 10am-2pm.
For $50, you get six gym sessions. Birthday parties and Parents’ Nights Out in an environment that is accepting of individual differences are also unique features that are hard to find in other locations.
Farmers Branch, 972/239-8100
The Basics: Sense-able Gym has the infrastructure of a complete therapy center with a fun and welcoming open gym concept that resembles a children’s museum. Although all children are welcome, the center is designed with the sensory needs of kids in mind. Children are encouraged to participate in everything from diving into the foam pit to exploring water towers rigged with color-changing fiber optics. A room known as the Tech-nasium is stocked with iPads for times when kids need a quiet break from playtime, and a giant bean-bag couch provides a comfortable place to retreat from sensory overload. The staff is trained to handle meltdowns or frustrations with care and compassion. Open gym is available during business hours on weekdays with a variety of affordable pass options for families. You can choose a drop-in class for $12 ($6 for each additional sibling) or a monthly membership for $55 for one child, $85 for two children and $10 for each additional child.
Special-Needs Specifics: An adaptive yoga and movement class, known as Sense-able Movement, encourages kids 4 and older to work on balance and coordination skills with a trained instructor. Additional classes focus on social skills as kids work on gross motor activities with a group of peers. Sense-able also offers speech therapy and IEP consultation.
The Basics: Children as young as 12 months can begin their gymnastics education with ASI – and, at that age, with their parents in tow. There’s no need to worry about sessions or semesters; students can enroll at any time. Students who are new to ASI but not new to gymnastics will be subject to placement evaluations; these help determine whether they should start in a basic class or something more advanced, such as Power Tumbling. In addition to formal classes, all eight ASI locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area offer Parents’ Night Out and open-gym sessions.
Special-Needs Specifics: Gymmie Kids is a program for students ages 3-18 with special needs. These can be one-on-one private lessons, or the student can be enrolled in a typical class and get assistance from a “shadow coach.” These coaches’ training includes courses on common disabilities and disorders, as well as positive behavior intervention. Prices range from $72-$92 for a month’s worth of weekly private lessons.
Special Needs Gymnastics
The Basics: Despite its name, Special Needs Gymnastics offers much more than the spring boards and parallel bars at its facilities in Bedford and Plano. Founder Denise Anderson and her fellow coaches also teach swimming and cycling to children and adults, privately and in group settings, at multiple locations. Anderson says she drove from her home in Tarrant County to a student’s home in Prosper for nightly swim lessons at 10pm because that was when the lessons would best help him sleep. How’s that for dedication? Additionally, the coaches work on life skills by organizing field trips to places such as Six Flags. All prices are negotiable, with scholarships available thanks to the generosity of other parents.
Special-Needs Specifics: Exact times and locations for classes are purposefully not mentioned on the Special Needs Gymnastics website, because Anderson wants you to call her; she prefers to talk to each potential student’s parent or guardian first, to better understand the special needs in each situation. Anderson says she is completely comfortable with students who scream and yell. “I want this to be their release time,” she says. “Go ahead — release it all on me, so when they get home, they can just love on Mom and Dad.”
Multiple locations, 806/438-3227
Jumpstreet Indoor Trampoline Park
The Basics: Bouncing off the walls isn’t just allowed, it’s encouraged at one of the four Jumpstreet facilities located across North Texas. Wall-to-wall trampolines covering 20,000 square feet extend across the urban playground and include dodgeball courts, and specialty features that vary across locations. All North Texas parks feature Earthquake Kids Zone, a restricted area of the gym for little ones younger than 7 to have a safe place to play that is just their size.
Special-Needs Specifics: Jumpstreet features a semi-private event for kids with special needs and their families on the first Saturday of each month. Doors open at 9 am for an exclusive hour just for Special Family Saturdays to allow kids to experience the park while it is less crowded and calmer. An all-access pass is available at a reduced rate of $8 for kids 4 and older and $4 for kids younger than 4. In addition to two hours of jumping, the all-access pass includes special features such as the foam pit, mechanical bull and inner tube slide. Parents are admitted free, and siblings are always welcome, allowing the whole family to enjoy an accessible way to play.
Pump It Up
The Basics: Pump It Up was designed as a climate-controlled venue for private and hassle-free birthday parties, but daily open-jump sessions have made the facility a popular place to meet friends and get active. Inside the acres of play space, giant inflatables go way beyond the typical bounce house and give all ages a soft place to go a little crazy. In addition to giant slides, kids will find obstacle courses and arenas where they can challenge their friends to a game, or even a section with tricycles and scooters where younger kids can peddle around.
Special-Needs Specifics: Sensory-sensitive sessions, reserved for children with special needs and their families, occur from 6:30 to 8pm on the fourth Monday of each month at the Frisco location, and from 6 to 7:30pm on the third Monday of each month at the Dallas location on Forest Lane. For an $8 entrance fee, accommodations include no music, no use of whistles or microphones in the play area, and no need for stamps or wristbands. Advance registration is advised.
Published November 2015