For parents with special needs kids, it can be difficult to fully enjoy many of the great attractions and activities Indy has to offer. The Americans with Disabilities Act has opened the doors for more inclusiveness, but many families need more. Fortunately, Indianapolis is responding with greater accommodations and a more inclusive approach for all families. Often all it takes is an email or a phone call to make sure your family’s needs are met.
Many local attractions are initiating more extensive training to help employees work effectively with special needs children, especially those with autism and other intellectual and behavioral disorders. Organizations like the Indians, Colts, Children’s Museum and Conner Prairie are transferring this training into tangible benefits by offering weighted blankets, sensory toys, noise canceling earmuffs and designated quiet areas for kids who are overwhelmed or need a quiet place to decompress. They are also offering wheelchairs, assisted listening devices and sometimes American Sign Language interpreters upon request.
For kids who have anxiety with new experiences, many venues have posted social stories, sensory maps and tips sheets online to help kids prepare for their visit. And, while accessible parking and seating are available for those with physical disabilities, specialty seating, line cutting and early admission for kids with autism are not generally provided. However, parents should reach out with any concerns they have for their special needs child. Most venues will do what they can to make individual accommodations when possible. At the very least, they can make suggestions for ideal seating or the best time to visit. For those who do not yet have a program in place, it’s helpful to receive feedback from parents.
Below is a short list of for contacts and additional information for some venues that are going above and beyond to make sure all kids are welcome. Keep in mind, this is a very limited list and does not represent all organizations or venues with expanded inclusion programs. If you know of one that’s doing a great job, let us know in the comments.
Bakers Life Fieldhouse – Their website lists some accommodations, but stressed that they prefer to handle special needs on a case by case basis. Contact B.J. Brown, Guest Relations Manager, at (317) 917-2734 or email@example.com.
Colts –Accommodations and social stories are available on their website. For specific questions or requests, contact the ticket office at (317) 297-7000 or visit the Guest Services kiosk near section 121 on the street level.
Conner Prairie – Accommodations, along with an accessibility guest map, sensory friendly tip sheet, a map of quiet spots and a complete visitors guide can be found on their website. Staff members (or “interpreters”) in blue or red shirts are available throughout Conner Prairie to answer questions or help visitors along the way.
Children’s Museum – Accommodations, social stories and tips are listed on their website. For additional questions or concerns, contact Customer Service at 317-334-4000. For assistance during your visit, ask any staff member for help or stop by the Concierge Desk on Level One.
Indianapolis Indians – Contact Sarah McKinney at 317-269-3542 or Indians@IndyIndians.com for more information or to arrange accommodations. For assistance during games, visit the guest relations desk at the main entrance or ask an usher for help.
This guide and all special needs and adaptive resources on Indy with Kids have been made possible with support from Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation.
Carmel Clay Parks and Recreation has the philosophy that ALL programs are inclusive. If your child wants to use the Monon Community Center or participate in any of their many programs, just drop them an email and they can make accommodations to specifically fit your child’s needs. They can even facilitate a staff member to work directly with your child one-on-one if deemed necessary. But you can also find adaptive programs designed specifically for special needs children of all ages by searching their program guide with the key word “adaptive.” Some of these include sensory friendly family night, fishing and archery, kids night out, swim lessons, t-ball, and more.