17 Places children with special needs will love to play



Safe and stimulating environments where kids can explore, learn and play.

Opportunities for children with special needs

As a society we are still learning and adapting to those with special needs, but FINALLY we are starting to see more resources, programs and inclusion for all kids. So in honor of every family in the Hudson Valley waiting to be included, to learn a new talent or foster a passion, there is a place for you! Check out these 17 Hudson Valley Hot Spots for children with special needs.

Read More: 10 tips for play dates with kids of all abilities.

1. Bounce Poughkeepsie– Children with special needs and their caregivers can jump for $10 for the first hour and $5 for the second hour on the first Monday of every month. Call ahead for reservations and immediate family members are welcome to bounce too! Poughkeepsie, 845-206-4555.

2. Sensory Friendly Films– This monthly program brings favorite films to families with kids who have Autism (and I would imagine other special needs are fine too). The theater keeps the lights on, the sound down and kids are encouraged to get up and dance, sing, shout and move throughout the theater. A very cool way the whole family can enjoy time at the movies! Check the site for upcoming movies and dates. Middletown, 845-695-1724.

3. Miss Claire’s Musical Cupboard A musical paradise for special needs children. Miss Claire’s offers Zylofone Performing Arts, a program specially designed for special needs as well as Baby Signing Time, teaching basic sign language through music. If you aren’t familiar with baby signing time, check it out! My boys started signing around 6 months thanks to Signing Time and we have been hooked ever since! Other programs include, Kindermusik, Rhythmic Arts, Music, Movement and Drums and Yoga. Montgomery,845-522-9652.

4. Winslow Riding Academy– Therapeutic horseback riding helps children and adults with disabilities improve their physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. At Winslow Riding Academy, there are specific programs to help meet the needs of individuals whether they have a disability or not. A few of the programs offered include, Therapeutic Riding, Hippotheraphy, Horses for Heroes and group or private riding lessons. Warwick, 845-986-6686.

5. Camp Huntington– A special camp for special campers. Camp Huntington offers week-long and weekend camps that focus on building independence, team work and bring out hidden talents and abilities. Activities include swimming, music, sports, drama, crafts, cooking, gardening and much more! High Falls, 845-687-7840.

6. Kelder’s Farm– Most farms are wonderful for kids with special needs. The entire family can enjoy seasonal berry picking, farm animals and running free. Though not open year round, Kelder’s Farm is a wonderful place for children with special needs and their families. Activities include a giant air pillow, barnyard zoo, corn maze and seasonal berry and apple picking. Kerhonkson, 845-626-7137.

Read More: What you need to know about early intervention

7. Bard Collage Pool– For children with Autism and other special needs, we know how important sensory input is for a balanced day. Many kids love swimming or the water. I found that for only $10 (drop-in) for the day you can use the pool during their open swim times.

8. Mid- Hudson Children’s Museum– The museum has been making many improvements over the last year. We love the new two-story fire truck, and the new Wonder Dome, great for kids with special needs. This space is a great place for sensory and therapeutic play and exploration and used by both parents and therapists. The space includes a light waterfall, a tactile curtain, and exploration of light, color, shadows and depths. A wonderful sensory experience. Poughkeepsie, 845-471-0589.

9. Poets Walk– There are so many beautiful parks and landscapes in our area I am always struggling to pull out one or two to highlight in these round- up posts! I chose to highlight Poets Walk for a special needs post because of the different type of landscapes to explore, the quietness and overall atmosphere of this park. Red Hook.

10. Center for Spectrum Services Playground– This unique playground is specially designed to promote cooperative play among children of all abilities. The new space gives children with special needs along with their therapists a place to work on gross, fine motor and sensory skills. The playground is still in the building stages and they are always looking for volunteers, donations or even just getting the word out. Kingston, 845-336-2616.

11. Orange County Sports Club– A special Needs Adaptive Play (SNAP) class for kids interested in gymnastics and movement. The class is 45 minutes and there are many other classes from mommy and me up through pre-teen and more so the whole family can play at the same club! Florida, 845-651-1000.

12. Lagrange Challenger Bowling Club– Doing some research and I found quite a few towns that offer adaptive sports programs for children and adults with physical or developmental special needs. Lagrange bowling club was just one example that provides a fun, supportive, non judgmental environment that promotes self- esteem and socialization. Check and see if there is something similar near you.

13. Mid-Hudson Music Together– It’s tough parenting siblings when one has a disability and one doesn’t. Finding classes and things the kids can do at the same time can be a challenge so I love that Mid Hudson Music Together offers a Supportive Family class! The idea is that both children with and without developmental special needs can play and learn from each other. They also offer individual and group music therapy.

READ MORE: 10 Hudson Valley places the whole family can enjoy.

14. Therapeutic Ice Skating at the Civic Center– What a great idea! Children with disabilities can truly accomplish anything with a little flexibility! The Mid Hudson Civic Center has designed a program that teaches children of all abilities how to ice skate. They also offer an open skating session for families of children with disabilities for $5 including skate rental! Open skate is on Sundays from 12:15-1pm. Poughkeepsie, 845-454-5800 x 1205.

15. The Ashokan Center– Camp Whirligig is a music and dance camp especially for families living with Autism. Activities include dancing, music, swimming, games and more. Registration opens soon,check the site for more info. Olivebridge, 845-657-8333.

Read more: Are specialty camps the best option for kids with special needs?

16. Art Fun for Kids–  If art is more your child’s interest, Jerry from ARC is teaching kids of all ages how to draw, paint, cut and paste with special programs including art therapy, to special needs classes and art parties. These classes combine art education and learning the basics with a child centered art therapy approach. Kingston, 845-331-2662.

17. NatureAccess® program– This special outdoor program promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in outdoor nature programs. In order to make participation in these programs as smoothly as possible, call ahead to make arrangements and specially trained staff will be there to assist you. This program is open to class trips, summer camp, public programs, outreach visits and group visits.

READ MORE: How to handle the stress and anxiety of a child with Autism.