Special Access for Kids with Special Needs

This month the CMA shares details with readers about, “Mornings at the Museum,” a program dedicated to serving special needs children and their families who want to visit the Museum during “off” hours.

Why Special Needs Kids Need Special Program

Do you know or have a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) or a sensory processing disorder? If not, you have probably come across a family with a special needs child at the grocery store or another public venue. At the time you may have thought to yourself, “Wow, that kid is out of control.” And, you were right for the wrong reasons. The child was out of control because they were overwhelmed, felt like they had no control, and didn’t have the means to communicate their emotions with their caregivers. Welcome to the world of kids with special needs.

How the CMA Helps Families with ASD and Sensory Processing Disorders

Kids with special needs are, well, special. They aren’t any more or less smart than other kids. They’re just wired differently. Kids with ASD or sensory processing disorders “feel” the world differently than other kids, and they don’t experience it identically to one another either. For caregivers, parenting these kids can be frustrating and challenging. The typical kid can visit a place like the Children’s Museum of Acadiana and have a good time. Sure, on an occasional visit they may have a melt-down. That’s normal. The special kids we’re talking about enter crisis-mode regularly, and getting them out of it seems impossible. Families with special needs children become so fearful of unknown triggers, they are afraid to leave the house. Literally.

To help these families, the Children’s Museum of Acadiana offers free private hours once a month so that they can enjoy the museum in relative isolation. The Museum limits each “Mornings at the Museum” event to fifteen children and their families – siblings are welcome as well – so that they feel like they have space and freedom to enjoy the Museum. Lights and sounds are turned down. Adaptive equipment such as headphones and weighted vests are available for use. The staff on hand is trained to interact and engage with these special guests and help them make the most of their visit. In addition to taking advantage of the CMA’s many hands-on exhibits, activities are offered that are specially designed with these kids in mind. Many of the exhibits are intentionally designed to include sensory equipment that these kids especially enjoy.

Removing Barriers to Inclusion – Why We Host Private Hours

Families with special needs kids feel hesitant about going out in public. The CMA believes that doesn’t mean they should be deprived of meaningful experiences. The CMA strives for inclusion of and accessibility for all children, and through “Mornings at the Museum” offers a safe, accessible, and welcoming environment to kids who need some extra T.L.C. All children benefit from the Museum’s offerings, and it is important for special needs children to enjoy experiences that enrich their lives. So, thanks to financial support from The Daily Advertiser’s parent company Gannett’s Foundation and the Billeaud Companies, the CMA offers private hours to families with these special kids for free. That’s right. There is no charge for special kids and caregivers to visit. We just ask for an r.s.v.p.

How to Sign Your Special Kid Up

If you have a special needs child, we hope you call us to rsvp for an upcoming “Mornings in the Museum.” Access the CMA’s “Social Story” online. We know some kids are at their best later in the day, so sometimes we host evening hours instead. Register online or call the Museum at 337-232-8500, and a spot will be reserved with your special kid’s name on it. If you still have concerns, share them. CMA staff will do everything they can to make your child’s experience a great one.

Upcoming “Mornings at the Museum” dates and times are:

February 2nd, 2020 – 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
March 1st, 2020 – 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 pm
April 12th, 2020 – 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
May 3rd, 2020 – 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

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The Benefits of CMA Membership

Welcome to the CMA’s inaugural blog post. This month the CMA launches an updated and simplified membership program for guests who want to support the Museum and visit often.

Why you should join

Membership makes visiting the CMA more carefree. What does that mean? Well, children’s museums are for children, and there are times children (and their adults) have had enough. Imagine you and your child have been at the Museum for 15 minutes and they launch into a full-blown, inconsolable tantrum. Without a membership you think about the money just spent on admission. With a membership you think about returning on another day. Imagine another scenario: your little one spends an hour in the Super 1 Grocery Store, then an hour in the Bubble Factory, and is ready to leave. Again, without a membership you think you haven’t been in most of the exhibits. With it, you think about returning another day. Membership takes the stress out of the equation. With membership, anytime the CMA offers special programs like the “Only One You” Literacy Workshops for Kids Ages 4-7 or art demonstrations by Louisiana Crafts Guild artisans you can come and participate at no extra charge.

Why the CMA is a great investment

Membership to the CMA exposes your child or children to a variety of educationally enriching activities in a safe environment and presents them in a way that is fun. From real world scenarios like preparing and serving meals in Cafe’ des Enfants or tending animals in Happy Paws Hospital to participating in ever-changing art activities in the ReUSEum the CMA always has something to engage young guests. When kids are out of school around holidays and throughout the summer, the CMA kicks into high gear offering “Daily Discoveries” workshops during which children can participate in a new and different STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) activity every day. No child who visits the CMA regularly will experience the dreaded summer slide!

The perks add value

CMA membership offers perquisites beyond unlimited admission during normal operating hours.

  • Discounted admission to special events. You save money on tickets to the CMA’s Easter, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s events.
  • Invitations to member-exclusive events. Four times a year the CMA hosts Member’s Nights with special activities at no additional charge.
  • Discounts on parties, camps, and gift shop purchases. Having a birthday party at the CMA is a rite of passage, our camps immerse campers in exciting themes like pirates, and have you checked out the gift shop recently? There’s good stuff in there.
  • Discount on admission to other participating children’s museums. Over 200 children’s museums
  • – all with unique offerings – participate in membership reciprocity!

In closing

More and more research reveals kids need the type of hands-on exploratory play on offer at children’s museums for healthy child development. Young children thrive in environments they can explore. And, children need unstructured play to hone developmental skills like fine and gross motor skills as well as immerse themselves in creative play. The CMA is a place where children can build foundations for future success, and it is simply a wonderful place for them to go with adults they love to make memories. To purchase a CMA membership, click here

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