Our site is all about family fun and luckily we live in an area that recognizes that for some families, what is easy fun for some kids can be limiting or overwhelming for others, particularly those with disabilities or with special needs. While the Fairfax Family Fun team is not personally knowledgeable about special-needs or disabilities issues, we are aware of the opportunities that exist in our area for kids with who have physical or other disabilities or who face other challenges. We have listed these below and welcome your suggestions for other parks, playgrounds, and programs that cater to these families.
Please note: this is not intended to be a comprehensive special-needs resource. In keeping with the theme of this site, the focus is just on FUN activities for the family!
FULLY ACCESSIBLE PARK PLAYGROUNDS
Clemyjontri Park in McLean (a Fairfax County Park Authority park): A unique playground where children of all abilities can play side by side, “where children who use wheelchairs, walkers or braces, or who have sensory or developmental disabilities, can have a parallel playground experience of fun and exploration.” Other features include a carousel and picnic pavilion.
Chessie’s Big Backyard at Lee District Park in Franconia (also a Fairfax Park): This playground with a Chesapeake Bay theme for kids 5-12 incorporates slides, swings, and other equipment designed for use by all children, including those with special needs. The park also has the “Our Special Harbor” sprayground and a Family Recreation Area with a fully accessible tree house.
INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS PROGRAMS
Monkey Joe’s Dulles: This huge inflatable play and party center in nearby Sterling (just past Dulles Airport) features great fun for kids 12 and under, with wall-to-wall slides, jumps, and obstacle courses, plus a separate toddler play area. It’s open daily for walk-in play, and on the fourth Wednesday of each month it hosts Exceptional Kids Night for families. On these nights, Monkey Joe’s (a FairfaxFamilyFun.com sponsor!) closes early to the general public to give families with special needs time to play. Admission is free for kids with special needs and just $5 per sibling. Monkey Joe’s Dulles also has an arcade area and a cafe with comfortable seating and free wifi for parents to enjoy.
Wings to Fly Therapy and Play Center: Located in Chantilly, this is “an integrated therapy and recreational center that empowers families to become their own experts of their children’s potential. Along with therapy programs (occupational , speech and language, music, art) and other services, it offers clients, their siblings, and the general public a chance to enjoy the occupational therapy equipment and other spaces for fun and sensory exploration (open play times vary; a fee applies).
SPECIAL PROGRAMS AND EVENTS
My Gym Chantilly special needs classes: This renowned children’s fitness center now offers a class for children with special needs on Tuesdays and Sundays. The program integrates My Gym’s philosophies with an emphasis on gross motor skills and socialization.
FANtastic Fridays: An ongoing project of the Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services Division, Family Autism Night (FAN), offered monthly, is a free drop-in program for individuals on the autism spectrum ages 2-22 years old and their families. The evening includes a spotlight activity for everyone to enjoy — it could be games, arts and crafts, a night of swimming, for example — with other leisure activities available. The goal is to provide the community with opportunities for play, interaction, and socializing with other families in a safe environment. Upcoming events are listed on the News & Information page. Spaces are often limited so registration is recommended; call 703-324-5621, TTY 711.
Therapeutic Recreation Programs for Children, Teens, and Young Adults: Fairfax County also offers many ongoing specialized programs for kids and adults of various ability levels. These include summer programs, water/swimming activities, wheelchair programs, and beepball, the adaptive form of baseball for the visually impaired and legally blind — and an integrated program for preschoolers with or without disabilities to play together. For more information call 703-324-5532, TTY 711.
Special Needs Summer Camps: Fairfax County Public Schools has compiled a great list of summer camps for 2014. The directory is organized by various categories such as medical conditions, learning disabilities, visually impaired, ASD, and sensory motor integration.