Peaceful Fun: Sensory-friendly Learning for Kids

The Lansing area has made a name for itself as an inclusive, comfortable place for neurodiverse travelers and families.

Woman playing with child at interactive exhibit

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Sensory-friendly programming across the capital city—quieter, with low crowds and limited stimuli—is tailored to visitors with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorders and developmental delays.


The state’s first certified sensory inclusive zoo, Potter Park Zoo offers monthly FALCONERS events to welcome anyone with unique challenges such as autism or developmental disabilities. Activities, including up-close meetings with animals, are designed for all ages. On September 21, families can stay late—or overnight—at the zoo.


On the third Sunday of each month, two shows at Abrams Planetarium’s dome theater run with the lights up, the sound low and the theater doors open so that guests can move around as needed during the show and star talk. There’s also a designated lobby space for breaks.


Impression 5 Science Center gets its name from engaging the five senses, but it plans monthly events that reduce crowds and limit sounds, scents and lighting. As at many places around town, guests can check out backpacks that include noise-canceling headphones, dark glasses and other items that may assist with needs. Register in advance.


During V.I.P. Time on the second Monday of each month, jumpers with special needs take over Launch, an indoor trampoline attraction at Meridian Mall in Okemos. Discounted rates are offered for all kids (including siblings), and parents and guardians jump for free.


At the Michigan State Capitol, guides can accommodate many different needs on tours of the building’s history, art and architecture, while also helping guests understand how laws get made. A tour featuring a licensed American Sign Language interpreter will run on November 2; reservations are required.



The Michigan History Museum has several resources to help make self-guided visits more sensory-friendly. Guests can plan their visit ahead of time by taking a virtual tour on their website. Once at the museum, visitors can check out a sensory backpack that includes noise-canceling headphones, sunglasses and other tactile toys and tools.

Photo Courtesy of James Lenon