Sensory Friendly Programs, Activities and Places in Cincinnati

Child therapy, Speech Therapy, OT, Occupational Therapy, Cincinnati, Autism Scholarship, Jon Peterson Scholarship, Home

Borrowed from:

April is Autism Awareness Month, but for families with children with autism, the challenges are every day. Happily, in Cincinnati, there are a wealth of programs and resources available for families with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) all year long. Seeing a movie in the theatre, exploring an art museum, going to an arcade or playground, even getting a haircut — there are sensory-friendly accommodations in Cincinnati for a range of needs!

Here’s our Guide to Sensory Friendly Programs, Activities and Places in Cincinnati:


Cincinnati Art Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum offers a wide variety of tours and programs to make the Museum accessible to everyone, including: Autism Family Exploration for families with children with autism; Tours with American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and Touch Tours for visitors who are blind or partially sighted.

Contemporary Arts Center

Offers special tours for groups with special needs; call to schedule a free tour!

Cincinnati Museum Center

Accessibility is a top priority at CMC. Designated quiet zones, accommodations for the visually and hearing impaired and sensory friendly exhibits mean everyone can enjoy a day at the Museum Center.


AMC Sensory Friendly Films at AMC Newport on the Levee

AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where the lights are turned up and the sound is turned down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing! AMC’s Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Tuesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check local theatre listings for specific showtimes, and don’t forget to share your family fun with #AMCSensoryFriendly.

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

The Playhouse offers many accommodations for special needs; check out the Student Matinees page for  sensory-friendly performances.

Sensory Friendly Showtimes at Cobb Liberty Luxury 15

The Cobb Luxury 15 is home to periodic Sensory Friendly movie showings, providing families of varying abilities the opportunity to enjoy a family-friendly movie outing in a sensory-friendly environment. Sensory Friendly Showtimes happen one Saturday each month at 10 am; check website for schedule.

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati Sensory Friendly Performances

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is proud to present TCT’s Sensory-Friendly performances, intended for individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as people with other special needs who may benefit and their families.

The Cincinnati Ballet

The Cincinnati Ballet offers sensory-friendly performances of select family-friendly shows like The Nutcracker and Ballet Toybox. Check website for details on upcoming performances.


Cincinnati Center for Autism Sensory PlayScape

Check out their brand-new Sensory PlayScape for kids ages 3-20.

Cincinnati Parks Playgrounds

All of Cincinnati Parks’ playgrounds are handicap-friendly and most offer features that are ADA accessible.

Cincinnati Recreation Commission

Offers adaptive swim lessons for people with special needs.

Cincinnati Zoo

The Zoo’s Access for All program aims to encourage visitors of all abilities and backgrounds at the Zoo. The program allows service animals, free caregiver admission and more — find all the info here.

Clippard Park Playground

This Colerain Township playground is inclusive for everyone, boasting: ADA wide ramps, a variety of play equipment, swings with zero-G seats, tot seats and open seats, many climbing features, a music play area, a sandlot with backhoes (one accessible), sand and water tables and other fun features, plus swinging benches and covered tables.

Kings Island

Kings Island has a Boarding Pass Program which allows guests with mobility restrictions or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to access rides at specified times via the exit ramp in order to avoid crowds and waiting in the regular lines. Guests with a Boarding Pass will obtain a boarding or “ride” time on the pass that is equal to the anticipated wait time for a particular ride from the ride associate at the Alternate Access Entrance (usually a ride’s exit). Guests can then choose to rest comfortably away from the queue area until their boarding time.

Mayerson JCC

The JCC offers regular inclusion events, fitness classes and camps for people with special needs. A full listing of upcoming events can be found on the JCC’s website here.

Red Balloon Café + Play

On Wednesday afternoons after 2 pm, Red Balloon makes play time a bit more sensory friendly. Most notably, there is no water in the water table.

Special Needs Day at Scene75

The first Thursday of every month, Scene75 offers a Special Needs Day for local families. The program has been developed to help improve social and motor skills, hand and eye coordination, reaction time, and recognition… all in a safe, controlled and FUN environment. Registration is just $10/child ($14.99 for siblings) and can be done here.

West Fork Park Playground

The new Green Township playground features a maze for toddlers, a climbing and sliding hill, a musical playground, a zip line, slides and swings. However what will set this playground apart is that elements of it will appeal to children with sensory challenges, specifically children with autism, such as a maze with various visual and tactile elements. {Read our review here!}

YMCA of Greater Cincinnati

Offers adaptive swim lessons for people with special needs.


Junior Cuts in Milford has stylists with specific training (from Applied Behavioral Services Learning Center and Autism Speaks) as well as many years of experience serving children with special needs and/or sensory processing challenges. The entire Junior Cuts team is committed to helping make your and your child’s experience at our salon as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. The salon, main ​building, Recreations Outlet, and its restrooms are all wheelchair friendly.

Puzzle Pieces offers a relaxed shopping experience for families with autism. The store sells toys, games and gear for kids with autism, and features sensory rooms for kids to use while there.

Story Times

Blue Manatee

Check calendar for Sensory Story Times.

Boone County Public Library

Holds a monthly Sensory Story Time for for children with sensory sensitivities.

Campbell County Public Library

Has a monthly Sensory Science Story Time for kids of all ages, which begins with a short storytime that integrates movement and song, and end with hands-on STEAM exploration.Cincinnati Public LibraryHosts Special Needs Family Nights for families of kids with special needs, plus special events and classes geared toward kids and adults with special needs.

Kenton County Public Library

Library hosts weekly Sensory Open Play: a learn-though-play program geared for young learners and those with autism or other sensory challenges. Also offers monthly Rhythm and Rhyme: Sensory Storytime for children ages 2-6 with sensory integration challenges.

Resources for Parents

Applied Behavioral ServicesABS of Cincinnati and Dayton Ohio is a private Autism Learning Center for Children ages 2-21. There are locations in both Cincinnati and West Chester.

Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati

This organization has an awesome calendar that features all kinds of local events for families.

Autism Speaks

Cincinnati Center for Autism 

Just completed a Sensory PlayScape at their facility for kids to use.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

One of 21 facilities in the U.S. that’s participating in SPARKthe largest autism study ever undertaken in the United States. {Read about SPARK here.}

Cincinnati Therapy Connections

Upcoming Events

Flying Pig PigAbilities – May 4 in Downtown Cincinnati

Autism Speaks Walk – May 18 at Coney Island

Families, please let us know what we’ve missed! Email the details to [email protected].

Cincinnati Therapy Connections is happy to help be a resource for families! We are abreast of current research and love working with families to help their child who needs speech therapy or occupational therapy. Sensory friendly activities can be fun for the whole family! If your child needs speech therapy or occupational therapy, Cincinnati Therapy Connections can help! We come to your home, child’s school or academic environment to give your child 1-1 services. As a Jon Peterson or Autism Scholarship recipient, you can have those services free! Contact [email protected] or call 513-444-0770 to learn more.