How Kids on the Spectrum can Enjoy the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

GRCM Childrens Museum Sensory toolkit header

GRCM is a Sensory-Friendly Place for Kids

For children with sensory sensitivities, entering the Grand Rapid Children’s Museum (GRCM) may be a very overwhelming experience. With all of the lights, noises, colors, and busyness of the other children–they may feel overstimulated and unable to focus.

Imagine That GRCM Childrens Museum Mural Hunt

For this reason, some parents of special needs kids would simply avoid a visit. But Grand Rapids Children’s Museum wants ALL children to be able to enjoy their wonderland of learning fun, so they set out to create a safe experience for all kids.

Most recently, GRCM added Sensory Resource Toolkits which are available for checkout at the front desk.

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A Look Inside the Sensory Resource Toolkits

These backpack kits include:

  • kid-size weighted compression vests
  • noise-reducing headphones
  • fidget tools
  • weighted suspenders
  • emotion recognition flash cards
  • GRCM’s Social Story. (A social story is a first person account of a visit to the museum to help visitors feel prepared for the different exhibits.)

sensory friendly museum

These toolkits help children with sensory sensitivities to feel more at home in the museum and allow parents the peace of mind that their children will have fun without the risk of sensory overload.

They were created specifically for these children in mind and the items were chosen with advice from therapists, Fun and Function and the Autism Alliance of Michigan.

GRCM girl playing with bubbles

For families with children with sensory sensitivities, it can be challenging to find public places to visit, so having a fun place that their child will enjoy and be supported is so special and reassuring.  

We are so thankful for GRCM’s commitment to create a space that all children can enjoy!

GRCM has the Autism Alliance Seal of Approval

On top of providing the toolkits, GRCM was awarded the Autism Alliance Seal of Approval in January 2017 from the Autism Alliance of Michigan. To achieve this recognition, their staff attended the Autism Safety Training course and their building was assessed for sensory sensitivities.

Knowing that the building and most importantly its staff are approved by the alliance is further reassurance for parents that their child will be encouraged in their play at GRCM.


Tips for Visiting the Children’s Museum With Your Child That Needs Sensory Support

Rachel McKay, GRCM’s Professional Development and Inclusion Liaison, shared these tips for parents visiting the museum with children that could benefit from sensory support:

  1. Before you go, visit the museum’s website to check the schedule.  On the homepage, you will find a calendar of when field trips or other large groups will be attending and you can plan accordingly to avoid high noise levels and large crowds.
  2. Review the Social Story at home.  This explains all of the different exhibits to prepare your child and to know if there are some to avoid.
  3. Call ahead at 616-235-4726 to reserve a Sensory Resource Toolkit.
  4. Enjoy your time at the museum!

Grand Rapids Children's Museum

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