Differences Welcome


Scroll down to read about special needs & sensory-friendly programs and events for families & children in the Philadelphia, South Jersey & Delaware areas. Or, click on an event in the list below for more information.

– Autism Awareness events & Special Needs days 
hosted by Variety – The Children’s Charity, various
Sensory Friendly Film Screenings, various locations
KidZooU at the Philadelphia Zoo
– Philadelphia YMCA programs
– Huddle Up for Autism with the Philadelphia Eagles
Sahara Sam's Oasis Water Park, West Berlin, NJ
Garden State Discovery Museum, Cherry Hill, NJ
Delaware Children's Museum, Wilmington, DE


Variety programs

These programs are hosted by Variety – The Children's Charity, an organization that provides special needs families with resources as well as recreational & educational activities:

Autism Awareness Nights

Variety Day

When: April 6
Where: Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia
When: April 20
Where: Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA
When: April 27
Where: Adventure Aquarium in
Camden, NJ
What: For families with kids with physical 
and/or developmental disabilities.
What: For families with kids on
the autism spectrum.

Special features: Accommodations are made to ensure sensory comfort as kids explore exhibits and attractions, and parents can collect information from various special needs-related organizations.

Details: To attend, families must register through Variety to verify their children’s disabilities; the registration fee for each event is donated to Variety.


Sensory Friendly Films

When: April 6, June 1 & 29 (Recurring almost every month)

Where: AMC Theatres in Allentown, Bensalem, Philadelphia, Springfield and West Chester, PA, and Cherry Hill and Hamilton, NJ.

Special features: The lights are turned up, the sound is turned down and guests may walk around, dance or sing during the film.

Details: Check with your local theater for movie schedules. 


KidZooU at the Philadelphia Zoo

When: Opens April 13 (Ongoing programming)

What: Permanent indoor/outdoor children’s zoo where visitors get hands-on with animal care.

Special features: Braille, sign language and a picture-exchange communication system for kids with autism.


Who: The Philadelphia Zoo worked with the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Overbrook School for the Blind.

Details: Exploration included with regular admission.


Philadelphia YMCA programs
The Y regularly offers ability programs such as aquatic & karate classes and “teen nights” to provide learning in a safe, non-competitive, success-oriented atmosphere. To find special needs programming in your area, visit Philaymca.org


Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney with fans at Huddle Up for Autism 2012.

Huddle Up for Autism

When: April 14

Where: Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia

What: Meet-&-greets with Eagles’ players, games, arts & crafts and field & locker room tours.

Special features: Child specialists, quiet rooms and gluten-free concessions stands available. To prevent overwhelming guests, the event is limited to 5,000 attendees.

Who: Collaboration between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Details: Event is free, but advance registration is required, and spots fill up quickly!


Special Evening for Special Needs

When: May 10 (Recurring a few times per year)

Where: Sahara Sam’s Oasis in West Berlin, NJ

Special features: Access to most water attractions with a quiet room for resting. Lights & audio throughout the park are turned down to accommodate guests with sensory issues.

Details: Tickets are offered at a discounted price. Visit the website for more information.


Open Arms: Family Evening

When: May 26, Aug. 4 & Nov. 10 
(Recurring a few times per year)

Where: Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, NJ

What: Open play for families with kids on the autism spectrum.

Special features: Event is afterhours to ensure a calm environment, and audio is turned down. Kids can rest in a quiet room, and a sensory area includes activities like drawing with shaving cream.

Details: Admission is free.


Sensory-focused activities

When: Ongoing programming.

Where: Delaware Children’s Museum in Wilmington, DE

What: Activities vary; Kids can squeeze noodles in vegetable oil, dig for mystery items buried in dry rice or beans or play with goop made from cornstarch and water.

Special features: Sensory-focused activities in the art studio, a quieter, confined area of the museum.

Details: Check website for current programming. 


For additional special needs events, listings, resources & articles, visit MetroKids.com/specialkids.



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