Maryland Makes Children with Special Needs a Priority at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum
For children with special needs, it can be important to take a break from scheduled speech therapy and constant structure. Children need opportunities to explore and shake their sillies out while engaging in new activities to simulate their mind, senses and physical movement. They also need opportunities to practice speech skills in new environments (and a highly motivating context can’t hurt). Fortunately for Baltimore Maryland families of special needs children, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum has it all. Across three different floors of educational, interactive and constantly changing programs for children birth – 10, this place makes it a point to engage children with special physical, fine motor or cognitive needs.
Designated Days for Children with Special Needs
According to the website, during Discovery Days, children with special needs and their caregivers can explore the Museum in a modified environment, where lights and exhibit sounds are lowered to keep everyone at ease. Talk about accommodating! These events occur four times each year with one special day designated for families with Autism. Children and families can also expect special activities on these days designed to increase children’s language, motor, sensory and social skills.
Partnering with the Community to combine Therapeutic Activities
Port Discovery partners with a variety of organizations to bring the community and families from all different backgrounds into the museum. These include community arts project collaborations, partnerships with universities and schools and PACT (an affiliate of the Kennedy Krieger Institute). The mission has been to provide an inclusive – and playful – therapeutic community. Together, the Port Discovery Museum and PACT offer families a setting where they can practice the techniques they learned in therapy sessions and provide an opportunity for them to meet other families with similar life experiences. This means adapting the museum exhibits to accommodate children with different ability levels, providing therapy groups and offering support to parents and caregivers.
Scripted Stories for Supporting your Child’s Visit
Available through the website, Port Discovery provides Scripted Stories for families to download on their website. Scripted stories are social stories that help children with Autism prepare for upcoming, and often novel, environments. The museum recommends reading the stories multiple times before the visit to review the key concepts. This is a great start for parents who are looking for materials to prepare their child for an upcoming visit- but note that you might want to customize them for your child’s needs.
Customizing social stories is a great way to add your child’s name and use language they will understand. Make visuals appropriate to their level of understanding and relevant to them.
Admission is $13.95 for ages 2 and up. Members and children younger than two years are admitted for FREE
Current hours are:
Tuesday through Friday: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm
Events are always changing with new exhibits happening often. Just a sneak peak of upcoming events includes:
- Dr. Seuss’ birthday celebration, March 2, 2013
- The Wizard of Oz Children’s Educational Exhibition, opening Saturday, January 26th!
- Little Days, March 3, 2013 (For children under 5 only!)
- Target $2 Family Fun Night Friday, March 15, 2013