Akron-Canton area offers sensory-friendly experiences

Brandon Rohrer, guest operations manager, and Stephanie Toole, education and outreach manager for the Massillon Museum, speak about the museum's sensory room.

Brandon Rohrer, guest operations manager, and Stephanie Toole, education and outreach manager for the Massillon Museum, speak about the museum’s sensory room.

Families searching for sensory-friendly experiences don’t have to travel far to get them.

A number of places in the Akron-Canton area offer activities, rooms and experiences for guests with a sensory, social or learning disability, whose brains become overwhelmed by stimulation.

Nearly one in six Americans have or will experience a sensory or communication disorder in their lifetime, the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reported.

“Sensory-friendly workplaces and other sites recognize that individuals can be impacted by sound, sight, touch and smell and taste, and can benefit from adjustments and modifications,” said Kevin Miller, director of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.

For example, the Massillon Museum added a sensory room when it expanded in 2018-19 for patrons who need a break from overstimulation. It followed the success of a 2017 multi-sensory exhibition called “Blind Spot.”

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Stephanie Toole, museum education and outreach manager, said the exhibition made paintings accessible to people with blindness and low vision. The artwork had tactile or touch capabilities, plus Braille labels.

The Massillon Museum's sensory room.

The Massillon Museum’s sensory room.

From that experience, Toole said the museum expanded its sensory-friendly capabilities for patrons with other disabilities.

“Part of our mission is to make art and history accessible to everyone,” she said.

Toole said the museum sensory room is available upon request at the front desk and is free to use. Any patron can use the room but it was created for “folks with sensory sensitivities” in mind, she said.

The room includes adjustable lights and tactile and weighted resources. Like other facilities, including the Akron Rubberducks, the museum has sensory bags for patrons.

A sensory bag can include headphones to block out noise, fidget toys, sunglasses to reduce lights and visual cards for children to verbalize with others.

“We have folks who come here because they’ve heard about the sensory room,” Toole said. “It gets used daily.”

In addition to the Massillon Museum, here are more sensory-friendly experiences for families in the Akron-Canton area:

Akron Children’s Museum

Location: 216 S. Main St., Akron.

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Sensory-friendly experience: Sensory bags available and annual “Play for All” days feature special activities for children with disabilities and their families. The museum has partnered with several agency to ensure accessibility for all children.

Website: https://akronkids.org/visit-us/access-inclusivity

Penguins on display at the Akron Zoo.

Penguins on display at the Akron Zoo.

Akron Zoo

Location: 500 Edgewood Ave., Akron.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week.

Sensory-friendly experience: Sensory bags, weighted lap pads, four quiet zones and multiple headphone zones. A comfort station provides guests with privacy. Partnered with KultureCity, a national nonprofit agency for sensory accessibility and acceptance.

Website: www.akronzoo.org/accessibility

Grace Benson, student assistant looks for a DVD as she fills a media request in culture and audiovisual division at Akron-Summit County Public Library in downtown Akron. [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]

Grace Benson, student assistant looks for a DVD as she fills a media request in culture and audiovisual division at Akron-Summit County Public Library in downtown Akron. [Mike Cardew/Beacon Journal]

Akron-Summit County Public Library

Location: 60 S High St., Akron

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Sensory-friendly experience: Sensory bags, weighted lap pads, quiet zones and social stories. They also offer memory kits and other resources for people with dementia. Partnered with KultureCity, a national nonprofit agency for sensory accessibility and acceptance.

Website: www.akronlibrary.org/about/accessibility

Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve near Alliance has a sensory garden that stimulates the senses - sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste - with raised garden beds.

Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve near Alliance has a sensory garden that stimulates the senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste – with raised garden beds.

Beech Creek Botanical Garden

Location: 11929 Beech St. NE, Alliance.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Sensory-friendly experience: A sensory garden stimulates the senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste – with raised garden beds.

Website: www.beechcreekgardens.org/botanical-gardens

The Canton Museum of Art's therapy program offers participants tours as well as artmaking sessions with a certified art therapist.

The Canton Museum of Art’s therapy program offers participants tours as well as artmaking sessions with a certified art therapist.

Canton Art Museum

Location: 1001 Market Ave. N, Canton.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday (subject to change).

Sensory-friendly experience: The museum has sensory bags available at the front desk and a weighted lap blanket. Partnered with KultureCity.

Website: www.cantonart.org/content/sensory-inclusion-certified

Central Catholic and St. Thomas Aquinas worked together to present a special performance of the schools' "SpongeBob The Musical" on April 1, 2022, for Catholic school students in grades four to eight at Canton Palace Theatre.

Central Catholic and St. Thomas Aquinas worked together to present a special performance of the schools’ “SpongeBob The Musical” on April 1, 2022, for Catholic school students in grades four to eight at Canton Palace Theatre.

Canton Palace Theatre

Location: 605 Market Ave. N., Canton.

Hours: 6 p.m. on selected dates.

Sensory-friendly experience: The theater hosts a sensory cinema movie series Mondays from June 13 through Aug. 8 for patrons
with sensory disorders and their families.

Website: To see the movie schedule, go to: https://cantonpalacetheatre.org/event/sensory-cinema-space-jam. Movie times are 6:30 p.m.

Fifteen Chuck E. Cheese restaurants in Ohio, including ones in Stark and Summit counties, participate in Sensory Sensitive Sundays for kids with special needs.

Fifteen Chuck E. Cheese restaurants in Ohio, including ones in Stark and Summit counties, participate in Sensory Sensitive Sundays for kids with special needs.

Chuck E Cheese (Stark Co.)

Locations: 6370 Strip Ave. NW, North Canton; and 2779 W. Market St., Akron.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Sensory-friendly experience: Opens two hours early on the first Sunday of every month for children with autism and other special needs.

Website: www.chuckecheese.com/sensory-sensitive-sundays/

Lindsay Kahlenberg of Green picks out a selection of books for her children on an April 19, 2022, trip to North Canton Public Library.

Lindsay Kahlenberg of Green picks out a selection of books for her children on an April 19, 2022, trip to North Canton Public Library.

Libraries

Locations: Stark County District Library; Louisville, Massillon and North Canton public libraries.

Hours: Vary per library.

Sensory-friendly experience: The libraries offer materials, programming and/or quiet space for patrons with sensory concerns.

The Massillon Museum’s sensory room.

The Massillon Museum’s sensory room.

Massillon Museum

Location: 121 Lincoln Way E, Massillon.

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Sensory-friendly experience: The museum has a Sensory Room with multiple modes of seating, a yoga ball and mat, weighted blanket, sensory toys and bins and much more.

Website: www.massillonmuseum.org/accessibility

The gallery of the Pro Football Hall of Fame houses the bronze busts of 354 inductees.

The gallery of the Pro Football Hall of Fame houses the bronze busts of 354 inductees.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

Location: 2121 George Halas Drive NW, Canton.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week.

Sensory-friendly experience: Sensory bags available for guests upon request and a dedicated quiet zone is available. The museum also has American Sign Language tours and blind and vision impaired guests can request touch tours.

Website: www.profootballhof.com/visit/accessibility

Amanda Perry, an education programmer for Stark Parks, shows off one of the agency's mammal cages at Stark Parks Wildlife Conservation Center in March 2022. Two parks in the system offer special experiences for those with sensory issues.

Amanda Perry, an education programmer for Stark Parks, shows off one of the agency’s mammal cages at Stark Parks Wildlife Conservation Center in March 2022. Two parks in the system offer special experiences for those with sensory issues.

Stark Parks

Locations: There are two reservoirs, 12 parks and 12 trails within the system.

Sensory-friendly experience: Mindfulness Walk at Petros Park in Perry Township and outdoor animal enclosures at the Joseph J. and Helen M. Sommer Wildlife Conservation Center offer opportunities.

Website: https://starkparks.com/

Rock formations abound in Summit Metro Parks' Liberty Park.

Rock formations abound in Summit Metro Parks’ Liberty Park.

Summit Metro Parks

Locations: There are 16 parks and three trails within the system.

Sensory-friendly experience: Staff trained to assist visitors who may have autism or other developmental disabilities. Special arrangements and programs available.

Website: www.summitmetroparks.org/autism-friendly-site.aspx

Kids play at a Sky Zone in Anaheim, California, in this file photo. The Canton location offers a set of hours for those with special sensory needs.

Kids play at a Sky Zone in Anaheim, California, in this file photo. The Canton location offers a set of hours for those with special sensory needs.

Sky Zone

Location: 4381 Whipple Ave. NW, Canton.

Hours: 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 1 to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Sensory-friendly experience: Last Sunday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m. are sensory hours. This provides a quieter jumping experience for those with special needs.

Website: www.skyzone.com/programs/sensory-hours

Here are some sensory-friendly experiences in the Cleveland area:

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Location: 3813 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Thursdays.

Sensory-friendly experience: A sensory room and sensory packs are available. A partnership with the Monarch Center for Autism’s Welcoming Spaces Program offers patrons with additional support including call ahead accommodations.

Website: https://cmcleveland.org/sensoryresources/

Playhouse Square in Cleveland offers sensory-friendly performances and a video series on managing stress in different ways.

Playhouse Square in Cleveland offers sensory-friendly performances and a video series on managing stress in different ways.

Playhouse Square

Location: 1501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

Hours: Check website for performance times.

Sensory-friendly experience: Offers sensory-friendly performances and a video series on managing stress in different ways.

Website: /www.playhousesquare.org/events-tickets/sensory-friendly-programming

Designed by I.M. Pei, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is an eye-catching attraction on the shore of Lake Erie. (Jackie Finch / Courtesy photo)

Designed by I.M. Pei, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is an eye-catching attraction on the shore of Lake Erie. (Jackie Finch / Courtesy photo)

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Location: 1100 E. Ninth St., Cleveland.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday

Sensory-friendly experience: The museum has several quiet zones for guests who become overwhelmed by bright and loud environments. Sensory bags, at no cost, are available for guests. Partnered with KultureCity.

Website: www.rockhall.com/accessibility

If we missed a place, email Benjamin Duer at [email protected] with name and experiences and the online story will be updated.

Reach Benjamin Duer at 330-580-8567 or [email protected] On Twitter: @bduerREP.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Sensory-friendly experiences for Akron-Canton families to enjoy