Special Needs Events for Kids and Parents in Metro Detroit

Parents of children with special needs in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor can plan ahead for fun activities that are tailored to meet their needs.

There are always plenty of fun activities going on around southeast Michigan for kids and families to enjoy. But sometimes it’s nice for children with special needs to have an event that’s designed just for them — from sensory-friendly movie showings to a chance to try something new in a more patient, supportive environment.

Parents can also benefit from workshops, support meetings and other events geared toward moms and dads of children with special needs.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list featuring some great upcoming special needs events for kids and their parents. Take a peek at these activities for people with special needs and their families.

Looking for even more fun things to do with your kids this weekend and beyond? Check out our online calendar for even more family fun! 

Local events

Child with special needs playing with colorful toys
Photo credit: iStock/olesiabilkei

Looking for a fun event that is designed for your child’s needs? We’ve got you covered with art programming, movie nights, dances and other fun activities made for kids with sensory processing disorders and other special needs.

Movie Night Out

March 8, April 12, May 17, June 14, July 19, Aug. 16, 2023

Teens ages 14 and up can enjoy a movie at Emagine Rochester one Wednesday a month. Movies and show times will be emailed the week of the program. Assistance will be provided. Spots are extremely limited so pre-registration is required.

Sensory Storytime for Adults and Teens

March 13, 2023

On the second Monday of each month, adult and teens with intellectual or developmental disabilities (along with their caregivers) can join the library for songs, interactive stories, art projects and sensory crafts.

St. Paddy’s Dance

March 17, 2023

Teens ages 14 and up with special needs can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with an annual dance. Refreshments will be served. Registration required.

Sensory Story Time

March 21, 2023

It is just like their regular story time, but a welcoming space for those with sensory sensitivities. All ages are welcome, but it’s designed for ages 2-5. Advanced registration is required.

Movie Pizza Night

March 24, April 21, 2023

Kids ages 14 and up with special needs enjoy an evening of movies and pizza at this once-monthly event. Registration required.

Magical Journey – Sensory Friendly

April 1, 2023

See a royal sensory-friendly performance, which features a sing-along and meet and greet your favorite characters. This performance will have low level lights and sound, designated quiet and calm spaces and more.

Sensory Sensitive Sundays

April 2, May 7, June 4, July 2, Aug. 6, Sept. 3, Oct. 8, Nov. 5, Dec. 3, 2023

  • Address: Various locations in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor
  • Cost: Free 

On the first Sunday of every month, the play area will open two hours early for children with autism or sensory sensitivities. It will have reduced lighting and noise.

Diner’s Club

April 3, May 1, June 5, July 10, Aug. 7, 2023

  • Address: Locations TBD; check website
  • Cost: $6/resident, $8/non-resident

On one Monday a month, persons with special needs will be able to enjoy a meal with friends at various local restaurants. Participants will pay for their own meal, beverage and tip at the restaurant. Spots are very limited, so make sure to pre-register early. For ages 14 and up.

Sensory Story Time

April 25, 2023

It is just like their regular story time, but a welcoming space for those with sensory sensitivities. All ages are welcome, but it’s designed for ages 2-5. Advanced registration is required.

Family support and information

Photo credit: Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez

Raising a kid with special needs comes with a different set of challenges for families. Find support and get much-needed information to help you meet your child’s needs at these local events.

  • Are you looking for support in raising your child with autism? The Autism Alliance of Michigan showcases workshops on topics like ableism, peer support and much more on their website.
  • The Macomb-Oakland Regional Center offers tons of fun activities for kids with special needs alongside support groups and informational sessions. Check out their list of events for more.

More activities

Kid playing on a toy indoors
Photo credit: iStock

Not sure you want to leave the house? Have some fun at home, instead! Check out the sensory-friendly activities listed in our roundups below. They’re perfect fun for kids with special needs.

  • Keep your kids entertained with an engaging sensory bin. Check out this list of easy, cheap and fun sensory bin ideas to find one that your child will love.
  • Fun activities to try at home? Yes, please! From a family cook-off to crafts or a dance party, these 8 indoor activities has kids of all abilities covered.
  • Coloring is great fun for everyone and there are plenty of free coloring sheets for all interests. Download options from Detroit Parks, The Detroit Zoo, Crayola, Disney on Ice, MLB and more.
  • Kids have a lot of fun at their local playground, but not every playground meets every child needs. Kids with limited physical mobility or special needs find traditional playground fun at these local barrier-free spots.
  • Want to visit your favorite local attraction with your kids? Get details on museums, playgrounds and other spots that reserve time for guests with sensory processing disorders.

This post is updated regularly.

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