Sensory issues can make it a challenge to find a fun and supportive way to allow your child to explore and learn in an environment in which they feel comfortable. If you are looking for ways to get out and about with your sensory child, there are plenty of fun and sensory-sensitive places around Brisbane that provide a welcoming experience. Here’s our guide to sensory-friendly Brisbane.
Sensory friendly movies
Cinemas can be a little overwhelming to those with sensory issues. The darkness, loud noises, and the lack of ability to move freely can be quite stressful to children and parents.
Sensory-friendly screenings involve the lights being only slightly dimmed, sound being lowered, and the ability to move freely around the cinema. So where can you find these screenings? These screenings occur regularly at Event and Hoyts cinemas, but screening times differ at each venue so be sure to check it out before you go!
See what’s on at your local cinema here.
Working with animals and surrounding oneself with nature can help a lot of people with sensory disorders. One such place to help children using animals is EquusTerra Therapeutic Horse Riding, located in Yeronga. Each lesson students get to interact with a horse and be involved in a range of activities such as grooming, feeding and riding. An environment like this can help form a bond and trust between the student and animal in a supportive domain.
If animals aren’t exactly your child’s forte, a visit to one of Brisbane’s Discovery Centres offers a tactile and sensory educational experience. Downfall Creek Bushland Centre offers a Mountains to Mangroves Sensory trail with information boards inviting your child to touch, listen, and smell along the way. The trail is wheelchair accessible, with continuous handrails and interpretive signs that include braille and raised text. It’s the perfect way to get out with friends and family, whilst making it a fun and inclusive experience for your child.
Art play dates
Children are such creative young minds with lots of colourful ideas, so why not encourage it! Art play dates are run at QAGOMA in Brisbane city. Sessions are scheduled fortnightly on Tuesdays from March to May 2022. This event is run for 1- to 3-year-olds so it’s perfect for your excited tots! Each session includes a tour focusing on a sensory experience, with song and dance included to encourage children. This event is ticketed so be sure to book in advance!
QAGOMA also runs low-sensory days throughout the year, where lights and sounds are lowered. For “any day” visits, the gallery is usually much quieter after 2pm.
Queensland Museum is also much quieter after 2pm, though the museum is very accommodating whatever time you visit. Noise cancelling headphones and Sensory Kits are available from the cloakroom, and a sensory map advises which exhibits are busy, bright, and noisy, and which are quiet and dimly lit.
The Museum’s Discovery Centre offers a tactile experience for children who love to touch and feel texture, and SparkLab Sciencentre also has sensory sessions and a Social Story on their website to help you plan your visit.
The Workshops Rail Museum
The Ipswich Workshops Rail Museum welcomes all visitors. Just like Queensland Museum, noise cancelling headphones and Sensory Kits are available for every visit.
Each school holiday, The Workshops Rail Museum runs Sensory Friendly afternoons where fewer tickets are sold to reduce visitor numbers, and lights and sounds are lowered. The Workshops Rail Museum the perfect place to take little railway lovers and fans of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Marsden Library Sensory Space
Marsden Library is a wonderful safe space for sensory exploration, designed for children aged 0-12 years. There are lots of hands-on, audial, and visual activities for children to suit specific sensory needs. If sensory stimulation becomes too much, the beautiful bubble tube is there to calm and soothe. The library staff may also dim the lights in the area for you too, if required.
Brisbane City Council’s playground are designed for all children to enjoy. They may get busy and noisy at times, so plan your visit around your child’s needs and you will find a wealth of sensory-friendly and accessible equipment.
Senses can be stimulated or soothed with tactile sensory panels, sand and water play, and nest swings.
Find out more about Brisbane’s city playgrounds here or visit your local council’s website to discover the best sensory-friendly playgrounds near you.
This article was featured in Issue 51 of our printed magazine, published April/May 2022.