Sensory-Friendly Fall Favorites

from the State Fair to the theater to the museum

Mommy Blogger Stephanie Hanrahan is back with some great fall outing ideas for families with special needs kiddos. Check out her picks.


Fall is arguably my family’s favorite season. Cooler temps, all things pumpkin and spice, and festivals galore. But sometimes haunted houses and hayrides can be overwhelming for my little ones because they have autism.

Special needs parenting is a delicate dance. Sometimes my family can partake in everyday outings with ease, and sometimes we need further accommodations. Although we attend a lot of community events that aren’t geared toward autism, I’ve compiled a list of a few that do.

We must prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child. However, these amazing DFW resources make it easy for us to do both.

Alamo for All at Alamo Draft House

Alamo for All is a movie program for young families and guests with special needs.  All shows start before 2pm on Tuesdays, with more shows on the weekend. The shows include brighter lighting, admission for all ages (including infants), allowance of talking and noise, admission of latecomers and the welcomed use of adaptive technology.

Sensory Days at Dallas Museum of Art

On select days, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) will open early for children with autism and their families to enjoy art together in a fun environment. Families can participate in staff-led gallery experiences and activities, enjoy an interactive performance with a music therapist, and relax in a sensory room facilitated by occupational therapy students from Texas Woman’s University.

Sensory Friendly Performances at Dallas Children’s Theater

Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) will offer specially adapted plays for those with sensory needs. Throughout the course of the year, DCT will present a variety of plays, stories and fairy tales with sensory accommodations, such as brighter lighting and less noise. They also have sensory friendly classes scheduled for children who have a love for the theater and arts. 

Sensory Friendly Mornings at the State Fair

For the first time, the State Fair of Texas is offering Sensory-Friendly Mornings at the Fair every Wednesday—Oct. 3, 10, and 17, from 10am to 1pm.

On Sensory-Friendly Mornings there will be adjustments made across the fairgrounds to better accommodate those with sensory-related concerns. The Fair will provide a guided itinerary with a list of activities and exhibits that are easy on the eyes and ears. Additionally, fairgoers will be able to enjoy all the fun of the Midway without the usual lights and sounds from 12pm to 1pm. There will also be designated “Quiet Zones” where families can go throughout their visit should they need to depressurize.

Boo Bash at It’s a Sensory World

Boo Bash is a Halloween event which offers families a way to practice trick-or-treating in a sensory and communication-friendly environment. It’s a Sensory World will provide non-edible and edible treats, carnival games, a costume dance, bounce houses, concessions and the ever popular Boo Bus on Oct. 27, 5–8pm.


Stephanie Hanrahan was just your seemingly average housewife until she grew tired of pretending and took an axe to her white picket fence (also known as making her private journal public). Learn how she traded her pretending for a panty liner on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog Tinkles Her Pants, where she chronicles her journey as wife to a husband with chronic illness, mother to special needs kiddos, and a woman who often unravels then finds her footing again.

Images courtesy of Stephanie Hanrahan.