Autism Friendly Activities in Austin

Building BLOCS knows how important it is to keep our kids active in the community, but finding sensory friendly activities that work for your child is rare. Here is our list of local or virtual sensory friendly events for your family to explore in the Austin area.

✘ Alamo Drafthouse for All:

Austin’s favorite movie theater turns up their lights and turns down their sound for movie nights for all. Talking and noise is allowed as well as adaptive technology during these special movie showings. Movies starting before 2 pm on Tuesdays follow Alamo for All rules, with more shows on the weekends.

✘ Blue Starlite Drive-In Theater: 

Drive-in theaters are another activity that is sensory friendly for your family. You can control the movie’s volume in your car and prevent any extra sensory stimulation that is normally in a theater. Blue Starlite has multiple locations around town with family friendly movies!

✘ Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center: 

Bring your kids to this gorgeous 284 acre cultivated garden to teach sustainability of native plants and conservation of resources. The wildlife center has nature-inspired family and youth programs.

✘ Thinkery: 

This Austin children’s museum provides interactive play exhibits that encourage your kids to learn while having fun. They provide sensory friendly hours where ticket sales are decreased for crowd reduction. “No Tour Tuesdays” also are less crowded due to no school tours.


✘ Austin Nature and Science Center: 

This hidden gem houses native wildlife in indoor and outdoor exhibits. There is a giant Dino Pit with close to life size bones that kids can get dirty and explore. The center has a forest trail and pond, bird blind, polinator garden, honey bee observation hive, a human sundial, nano exploration, pond exploration, educational classes and workshops as well.

✘ iFly All ability program: 

iFly offers accommodations for childrens of all abilities with specialty assistance to put on proper safety equipment. Also they host All Ability Nights. Check out their website to recognize their to see the dates and times this is offered.

✘ Chuck E. Cheese Sensory Sensitive Sundays:

Chuck E. Cheese opens 2 hours early (9-11am) on the first Sunday of the month for Sensory Sensitive Sundays. This includes trained staff, less crowds and a toned-down atmosphere for our kiddos to play.

✘ Urban Air Indoor Trampoline Park:

This trampoline park is where your kids can get all their wiggles out. They have a foam pit, ropes course, tubes playground, laser race, warrior course, adventure hub, rock wall, sky rider, an arcade and of course tons of trampolines! They offer “Jumperoo” a regular time slot just for children 5 and under on Fridays from 10am-12pm.

✘ Book People: 

Book People offers virtual story time for all ages. This is a safe and easy activity for families to explore new books and meet the authors. Check their website for times and titles.

✘ Austin Central Library Virtual Storytime: 

Local libraries are hosting virtual story times as well. Austin libraries is a great resource to look into for our kids while they are at home. Check their website to see what events are coming up.

✘ Austin Zoo

The Austin Zoo is home to rescued animals that are retired or injured or re-homed from inhabitable exhibits. This is a non-profit that provide programs for all ages, such as Saturday camps and Homeschool series.

Take a Short Drive Out of Austin

✘ Play for All Park:

This park is a little drive to Round Rock. It is well worth the short trip! Kids with all abilities can explore worry free here! It includes a small kid-sized town, wheelchair accessible swings, a rock band area, and a sensory pod to provide your child with plenty of creative opportunities!

✘ Dinosaur Park

This educational dinosaur museum is in Cedar Creek features life-size dinosaurs with its largest, a 123-foot Diplodocus! The park also has a nature trail, fossil-dig, playground, and picnic areas. So pack a lunch for after all your exploring!

✘ Capital of Texas Zoo: 

This is a Zoo located on the outskirts of Austin, in Bastrop, Tx. It compares to large scale zoos such as Dallas and San Antonio. It offers a “happy and healthy” home to many animals including fourteen endangered species.

Free Fall Learning Series

Building BLOCS is hosting monthly classes this fall. Our therapists will be presenting on a variety of topics including the ARD process, potty training, peer play, self care and insurance. All of the classes will be held in our gym at 6pm and they are free and open to families as well as others in the community!

Check out the flyer below to read more about specific topics and dates, we hope to see you there!

 Fall Flyer 2018

A Call to Action: Texas Cuts Funding to Early Intervention Programs

State of Texas with Stethoscope

Early intervention, speech, and ABA therapy can be incredibly life-changing. We believe that this therapy should be as accessible as possible for families of all socio-economic backgrounds. Unfortunately, Texas lawmakers have enacted severe budget cuts that will soon impact many families’ ability to provide therapy for their children.

In short, Texas legislators have cut Medicaid funding for therapy services, including speech, autism, and occupational therapy, for thousands of Texas children with disabilities. Although a lawsuit was filed to halt the budget cuts, the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Now, starting on December 15th, those budget cuts will be officially applied.

While this is obviously devastating news for our community, there is still a chance that the budget cuts may be reversed. House Speaker Joe Straus has shown interest in addressing the issue during the next House session, beginning in January.

Therapy services such as the ones being cut by Medicaid are vital to our children and our communities. Please join us in contacting our representatives to ensure that these children do not continue to lose healthcare services. House Speaker Joe Straus’ mailing address, email address, and phone number are listed here. As we near the upcoming House session, it is imperative that we remind him how much of a difference these therapies are to our children and our families. In addition, you can email or phone Governor Greg Abbott or Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

At Building Blocs, we witness daily the immense change that early intervention therapies can make in children’s lives and the lives of their family. These therapies should be accessible for all children, including those on Medicaid. The funding necessary to help children with disabilities is not excess to be cut from Texas’ budget; instead, it is essential to the upbringing and well-being of Texas’ children.

Autism Awareness: Tips For Reaching Out

Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue

If you know someone who has autism or a child with autism, it may be difficult for you to know how to interact with them or their child.  This can be made more difficult by misinformation you may have been given that people with autism are not affectionate, loving, or interested in social interactions.  This is not true.  What’s true is that everyone is a unique individual and has their own social preferences.  

A few useful tips when reaching out to a  child with autism:

  • Don’t be afraid to say “hi” and invite them to participate in things you are doing; they might just say no, but frequently they’re not sure how to join in on their own. 
  • Children with autism may need a little more time to be in an environment and watch before they feel comfortable to join in.
  • When giving directions or interacting, be as direct and concrete as possible.
  • Give lots of choices, both for participation and within the activity.  (“You can keep watching or  come stand here and throw the ball.”)

Ask a the child’s parent for tips on interacting with their individual child, BUT, don’t do it in front of the child.  

Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  And as you go about your day today, you might notice lots of blue.  

Autism Speaks has started it’s “Light It Up Blue” campaign to help spread awareness. You can learn more about autism here or support them and this project from their website.