To kick off Autism Awareness Month, we put together a list of amazing resources for you.
If you, or someone you know, is seeking to learn more about autism and neurodiversity, we recommend that you always start with your pediatrician and/or your local regional center. Their professional recommendations, along with these resources are a great way to start.
Regional Center: For children up to age 3, government funded regional centers offer free assessments within 40 days of parent request for eligibility. These amazing centers can provide speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, parenting classes, and an extensive resource library to families.
MIND Institute - UC Davis: This facility specializes in evidence-based research on neurodiversity disabilities, while providing opportunities to participate in studies.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network : Provides support, as well as community and public policy information.
Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE): Offers explanation of disability rights, employment information, and empowered tools.
CDC ADA Homepage: The CDC Resource Page offers information for families, including health benefits, educational opportunities, and financial resources.
The Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders UC - Irvine: Provides information and community resources for our families in Orange County.
Autism Speaks: A vast online resource directory providing information for families.
Sensory Backpack Kit
We have the MOXI in Santa Barbara to thank for this idea. They let families borrow a sensory backpack that includes noise-reduction headphones, fidget toys, sunglasses, and “if lost please call” wristbands. Make a sensory backpack kit for your next adventure!
Attractions and Venues
This list is specific to the SoCal region; however, we found that most facilities, if asked, willingly make accommodations. The law states that an establishment can’t ask for any documentation, and it’s amazing to see how many facilities have support in place so that all children can have an enjoyable experience.
Amusement parks - All California amusement parks offer accommodations called Ride Assistance Pass, Assisted Access Pass, or Disability Access Service. For our neurodivergent children, standing in line can be overstimulating. The amount of sensory processing and loud noises can be overwhelming. All you need to do is visit guest services where they will go over the process with you to make your visit more manageable. Documentation is not needed. Also, make sure to ask for a badge or ‘if lost’ sticker to help facilitate quick and easy support for non-verbal children.
El Capitan Theatre: El Capitan offers special sensory screening movie time. This means that the lights are dimmed instead of turned completely out and the sound levels are reduced. If you call local theaters other than El Capitan, they generally offer sensory friendly films as well.
AMC Theatres: AMCs are currently showing Encanto and Sing 2 during their sensory screening times every Wednesday evenings and second and fourth Saturdays of the month.
Chuck E Cheese: Chuck E. Cheese offers Sensory Sensitive Sundays, where they provide a quieter environment with dimmed lighting and a trained staff member to support.
Snip-Its Hair Cuts: With locations all across the states, Snip-Its is known for providing accommodating haircuts for children of all sensory processing needs. Many families have expressed a need for finding the right barber or salon for their child, and Snip-Its might just be the answer.
Shane’s Inspiration: There are over 50 playgrounds that provide inclusive support for all ability levels. These playgrounds all have unique themes and provide a variety of activities for a child’s physical, cognitive, social, and sensory needs. Check out their list for a playground near you.
Dodgers Stadium: Did you know that Dodgers Stadium has a playground space for children? They also offer sensory bags for both adults and children if they are at risk for sensory overload. The kits can be borrowed at any Fan Services location, and must be returned at the end of your visit. The kits include noise canceling headphones, fidget toys, and other calming tools.
Storybook Theatre: This children’s theater, housed inside Theater West, is a fantastic place to watch a fairy tale musical. Lights are dim, sounds are low. There is always an amazing audience participation here for your child to move around and make as much noise as they want without any issues. If you need to step out for a break, you are allowed to do so. The theatre is very accommodating for all families.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts: This theater offers a sensory friendly/relaxed series, all shows take place at 10am in their Samueli Theater.
We want to thank the SoCal Influential Admin team for all their hard work in helping create this amazing resource list! 💙
Help us continue to grow this resource list!
This is just a starting point for our resource guide. If you know of additional resources, please email us so we can continue to grow our Collaboration Nation resource page. Imagine the reach we would have through social media if every one of our families contributed one resource!
We are stronger together! Please share this with anyone in need.