Fun Summer Activities For Kids With Special Needs

Summer is a great time to relax, have fun, and try to make as many memories as possible during these short months. For parents of kids with special needs, finding inclusive and engaging activities for their little ones is easy in Indy, because there are lots of summer activities around town for kids of all abilities. Here are some that we’ve found!

Play at an Accessible Playground

Indy is home to a number of accessible parks and playgrounds, where kids with special needs can explore, play and enjoy the great outdoors. Shawn Grove Park in the Old Northside is great for children ages 5 and under who love to run because it is completely fenced in. Westermeier Commons Playground in Carmel offers fun for all ages and abilities — including two specific areas for children ages 2-5 and 5-12. Independence Park in Greenwood has an all-accessible playground with rubberized surface, a wheelchair-accessible trail and basketball court, and a sensory area designed with autistic children in mind. And Brooks School Park in Fishers features a sensory play area with drums, chimes, bells, xylophones, activity boards and a rubberized surface. For even more accessible playgrounds, visit indyschild.com/inclusive-accessible-playgrounds-indianapolis.

Independence Park in Greenwood

Make a Splash at an Accessible Pool

Swimming and playing in the water is an iconic summer activity. Many swimming pools and water parks in Indianapolis provide accessibility features for children with special needs, ensuring that every child can cool off and have fun in the water. Indy Island Aquatic Center at Raymond Park is equipped with a ramp entry for wheelchairs and a zero-depth entry area. The Waterpark at the Monon Community Center in Carmel has water wheelchairs that guests can use to enter the pool and enjoy the water features. The ADA-accessible Murphy Aquatic Park in Avon also provides water wheelchairs, as well as play features that were adapted to ADA code.

Murphy Aquatic Park Water Park in Avon
Murphy Aquatic Park Water Park in Avon

Get Wet and Wacky at a Splash Pad

For free water fun, you can’t beat a splash pad. Indy has lots of splash pad options for kids of all abilities. The splash pads at Tarkington Park and Holliday Park are great for toddlers or kids who like to control their sensory experience, because the water features bubble up gently from the ground instead of splash overhead. Williams Park in Brownsburg has a large splash pad with lots of room to roam. And the splash pad at Dan Wakefield Park in Broad Ripple is great when you’re looking for a low-key splash pad — this little neighborhood park is a hidden gem and doesn’t get too much traffic.

Catch a Sensory-friendly Flick

Going to the movies is a classic summer activity, and many local theaters in Indy offer sensory-friendly screenings for folks with special needs. Check out AMC’s Sensory Friendly Films, where the volume is turned down, the lights are slightly dimmed, and there are no previews or advertisements to overwhelm young movie-goers. Regal Theatre’s My Way Matinee invites everyone to experience a movie with the lights turned up and the volume turned down. In Noblesville, Emagine’s Sensory-friendly Movie Program allows audience interaction, such as moving, speaking and singing, and electronic device usage is allowed.

This is just a small sampling of all of the fun out there in Indy. Go out and have a great summer!

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