sensory friendly activities in Fort Myers

Upcoming Sensory Friendly Activities in Fort Myers, Naples, and SWFL

Family fun time can take a little extra planning when your child has different sensory needs. Our FOCUS Florida ABA therapists are here to help. We’ve compiled a list of upcoming sensory friendly activities in Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, and beyond!

Not every venue or event is accommodating for kids with sensory processing disorder. The good news is it is getting better. An estimated 1 in 36 kids has Autism Spectrum Disorder (often with sensory processing difficulties) and as many as 1 in 20 people may be affected by sensory processing disorder. As recently reported by Success Magazine, more companies are recognizing this is a sizable percentage of their potential customer base – not to mention their own employees. Adopting sensory-friendly practices – and a more sensory-friendly environment overall – is good for business.

Sensory-friendly environments and events take into account the experiences of those who may be hypersensitive to loud noise, flashing or bright lights, large crowds, tight spaces, strong smells, or certain textures. They also consider the less commonly-recognized senses – vestibular (inner ear and balance), interoceptive (emotional and internal regulation), and proprioceptive (body awareness). Sensory-friendly spaces tend to have lower lighting, smaller crowds, reduced noise, minimal odors, and quiet corners. Some also offer “sensory kits” for guests, with items like noise-canceling headphones, fidget spinners, AAC cards, emotion wheels, and more.

Here, we list some great local sensory friendly activities in Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers, Naples, and beyond!

We Rock the Spectrum Fort Myers.

This inclusive, sensory-friendly gym and play space features suspended equipment with swings, crash mats and crash pillows, a zip line, trampoline, indoor play structure, fine motor arts & crafts area, and sensory toys. As a franchise, We Rock the Spectrum was founded with the intention of providing a safe place for kids of all abilities to play and learn together. Access is not limited to kids with disabilities or sensory processing difficulties. All are welcome to enjoy the gym, which hosts regular open play hours as well as special events like birthday parties and parents’ night out.

Alliance for the Arts – Family Art Lab.

Every third Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, the Alliance for the Arts hosts a free Family ArtLab!, which welcomes families and kids of all abilities for hands-on art projects, gallery activities, games, and more. The center also offers regular programs for dance, music, art, and improv welcoming children with all abilities.

The Laboratory Theater of Florida.

The Laboratory Theater of Florida began offering sensory-friendly performances of many of its Fort Myers shows last year. Sensory-friendly performances feature lower sound and light levels (with all strobe light effects removed) and house lights that stay on low throughout the performance. Audience members are also free to stand and move around, leaving and re-entering the theater as needed. The north patio is designated as a quiet area during performances, and the theater’s volunteers are trained. Guests are also welcome to bring their own sensory supports, such as earplugs, headphones, tablets, fidgets, etc.

Calusa Nature Center.

The Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers hosts Sensory Sundays at its planetarium, with shows specifically for guests with autism, sensory sensitivities, PTSD and/or young kids. All are welcome, with shows limited to a maximum of 50 audience members. The lights are on but dimmed, sound is down, and theater doors are open so people can move about as needed. Sensory-friendly toys are also available upon request.

Naples Therapeutic Riding.

The Naples Therapeutic Riding Center offers horseback riding that’s tailored to provide therapeutic benefits for kids – including sensory acceptance, communication, mental focus, coordination, balance, posture, fine/gross motor skills, and muscle strengthening. Programs are offered to individuals with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities who are at least 4-years-old. Instructors are PATH-certified.

Freedom Waters Foundation.

This is a non-profit organization that provides marine-based social and environmental programs geared toward children and adults with disabilities and veterans. The organization partners with local private and commercial vessel owners to provide small and large therapeutic boating, adaptive sailing,, and fishing opportunities in Lee, Collier, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. It’s programs are free to participants.

Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples.

The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples offers sensory bins to guests with ASD and sensory processing disorder. These include weighted blankets, weighted seek & find, child-sized noise-canceling headphones and a visual timer. It also offers an “Exceptional Night” on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. – free for members and $5 for non-members – that is specifically for neurodivergent kids. The lighting and sounds are muted, cool-down spaces are available, and participation is limited to keep crowds minimal. The next two “Exceptional Nights” on the calendar are May 28, 2024 and June 25, 2024.

Have More Sensory-Friendly Activities in Fort Myers, Naples & Beyond?

Feel free to share them with us! We love keeping our FOCUS families in the loop about inclusive local activities!

FOCUS offers pediatric ABA therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

KultureCity – Sensory Inclusive Certification

More Blog Entries:

5 Major Benefits of Our Fort Myers ABA Therapy, Feb. 7, 2024, Fort Myers ABA Therapy Blog

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