ASD Friendly Educational Experiences
Family outings can be both fun and educational for children. However, for children with ASD, a trip to the local museum, zoo, or aquarium can sometimes be overwhelming for sensory sensitivities. Children with different abilities deserve to learn and enjoy the experience educational activities have to offer the same as any other children.
Ontario Science Centre
The Ontario Science Centre is a place where people of all ages can learn, play, and discover science. The centre is one of the first interactive museums in the world.
Partnered with the Geneva Centre For Autism and other organizations, the Science Centre offers sensory friendly time slots on the first Saturday of every month between 3 and 7 PM. The Centre is committed to celebrating neurodiversity in the local community and created Sensory Friendly Saturdays to provide an inclusive environment for people with ASD that is accessible and respectful of their needs. These events are suitable for people of all ages.
As the Centre is currently closed for the Covid-19 lockdowns, free virtual workshops are available to provide activities, seminars, and support.
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
The Royal Ontario Museum was founded in 1914 and showcases art, culture, and nature from history and around the world. The museum is one of the top cultural institutions in North America, and the largest and most comprehensive museum in Canada. The museum houses 13 million works of art, natural history specimens, and cultural objects to discover.
The ROM has partnered with Autism Ontario to create the ‘ROM Sensory Friendly Guide’ for people of all ages with ASD to gain the most enjoyment from their visit. The guide is full of helpful information such as the exhibitions that feature loud noise, lighting, scents, changes in temperature, sloped floors, and crowded areas. It also highlights the quieter areas within the museum.
The ROM is currently closed in accordance with Covid-19 restrictions, but are offering virtual access to their exhibitions via their ROM At Home program.
Visual Arts Mississauga
Visual Arts Mississauga is a not for profit community arts organization and community visual arts centre. Visual arts hosts events during the year and offers several classes for kids and art camps during the March break and Summer months. There are exhibits hidden throughout the property, representing different aspects of the park.
This beautiful environment can be explored as a family day out, or children can participate in their many programs.
During the pandemic, Visual Arts have been hosting online classes for children as an alternative to their in-person activities.
Upper Canada Village
Upper Canada Village transports you back to life in the 1860s providing an authentic and educational experience for a fun family day out. The village is one of the largest living-history sites in Canada with over 40 historical buildings including homes, functioning mills, and trades workshops demonstrating daily life in a rural English Canadian setting.
Upper Canada Village offers ASD sensory friendly timeslots on Sunday mornings when children with ASD can experience the attractions in a less overwhelming way suited to their comfort level. These attractions include demonstrations of traditional trades such as weaving and spinning, and farming techniques. The traditionally dressed staff are on hand to answer a variety of questions on the music, politics, and religion of the era.
The Village is currently closed due to the pandemic but looks forward to welcoming back guests as soon as it is safe to do so.
ASD Friendly Zoos and Aquariums
The mission of the Toronto Zoo is to support and preserve conservation whilst connecting people to wildlife. The Zoo features exhibits with animals from various locations around the world providing an educational experience for children and adults.
To Support people with ASD, the zoo has developed a downloadable app created to teach a variety of life skills as well as providing useful information about accessing the zoo and offered programs. The app is called MagnusCards and has a fun, game-like format.
The zoo is currently closed for the pandemic lockdowns, but offers virtual programming and can be visited live through Facebook at 1:00PM every day.
Ripley’s Aquarium is a vast and beautiful space featuring sea life from all over the world displayed in beautiful tanks designed to immerse visitors in the world beneath the waves.
The aquarium is the first Autism certified attraction in Canada. The staff have undergone extensive training to ensure that people with ASD and sensory sensitivities have the best time possible when visiting the attraction. Each exhibit integrates IBCCES sensory guidelines providing visitors with information about the potential sensory impacts of each display and activity.
Outside of the pandemic, the aquarium offers plenty of educational activities and events for children. Although the doors are currently closed for in-person visits, virtual tours and programs are currently offered.