What is Community Inclusion?
Community Inclusion refers to the opportunities for meaningful interactions between families and children both with and without special needs within the community.
It includes experiences for children with and without special needs and their families which include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential.
Pennsylvania families share what Community Inclusion means to them. Watch their short videos!
The following activities and locations provide opportunities for Community Inclusion for those families of children with and without special needs, however, the links below provide information associated with accommodations for children with special needs.
A Certified Autism Center (CAC) is a facility or organization in which at least 80% of their staff is highly trained, fully equipped and certified in the field of autism. These organizations and individuals are committed to ongoing training and education to remain experts in the field.
The following are Certified Autism Centers in Pennsylvania:
- Build-A-Bear Workshop (Various locations) Sensory-friendly events at all Workshop locations
- Pennsylvania Ballet Academy (Cumberland County) Pennsylvania Ballet Academy of Camp Hill offers bALLet, an ALL-inclusive ballet education program. PBA believes that inclusive dance education can help children with special needs enjoy a fuller, richer life. The goal of the inclusive Ballet Education Program is to nurture a love of dance and creative expression in children with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges.
- ACCESS Philly (Philadelphia County) is a public initiative with over 50 participating locations including museums, gardens, historic sites, and live shows at theaters. ACCESS Philly allows ACCESS cardholders (those Pennsylvania residents who monitor their government-issued cash, food, or medical benefits with an EBT card) to visit participating locations at the deeply discounted rate of $2 per person. Find out which locations participate in ACCESS Philly.
- Brandywine River Museum of Art (Delaware County)
- Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (Allegheny County)
- Erie Maritime Museum (Erie County)
- Museums for All (Statewide). Through Museums for All, those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) can gain free or reduced admission to more than 300 museums throughout the United States simply by presenting their EBT card. Search to find a participating museum near you!
- Please Touch Museum (Philadelphia County) Play Without Boundaries–At this event, the Please Touch Museum is adapted to provide a relaxed environment for individuals with autism, learning differences, and other sensory or communication needs. Designated Therapists and/or Caregivers–One complimentary admission ticket will be issued at the request of the identified care provider or personal care attendant who is aiding a paid visitor or member who requires medical or physical assistance during their visit.
- Crossing Abilities All Inclusive Playground (Monroe County)
- Daniel’s Den Playground (Lancaster County)
- Elmwood Park Zoo (Montgomery County)
- Tree House Lititz (Lancaster County)
- National Aviary (Allegheny County)
- Pennsylvania State Parks with ADA | Accessible Nature (statewide) offers ADA accessible areas at many state park locations. Accessibility may include boardwalks, paved trails and promenades, wildlife viewing platforms or blinds, shortened distance trails, and benches. For more information about each park, visit the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, PA State Parks website.
- Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium (Allegheny County)
- The Access Pass (National) is a free, lifetime pass – available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability (does not have to be a 100% disability) – that provides admittance to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by five Federal agencies. At many sites the Access Pass provides the pass owner a discount on Expanded Amenity Fees (such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours). Visit the National Park Service website for additional information.
- Zoo America (Dauphin County) provides wheelchair and stroller accessibility. Host sensory events throughout the year.
- AID in PA (Autism and Intellectual Disabilities in Pennsylvania)
- Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT): Support/advocacy groups in different counties throughout Pennsylvania.
- The Arc of Lancaster Lebanon
- Aaron’s Acres (Lancaster County) Recreational programs, focusing on socialization and communication skills.
- Sky Zone (Lancaster County)
- We Rock The Spectrum Kid’s Gym (Dauphin County) Provides sensory-safe play for kids with autism, special needs, and neurotypical development.
- YMCA Adaptive Swim Lessons (Various Locations)
Early Intervention Resources for Families
If you’re looking for Early Intervention resources, here are some great resources for families!
- Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) Portal Family Page
- A to Z’s of Early Childhood, I is for Inclusion (Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies)
- Announcement DS-03 Inclusion of All Children in Early Childhood Education Programs in Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning)