Fall is finally here, bringing with it a chill in the air and all of our favorite activities like apple picking, choosing our pumpkins and running through corn mazes, finding a good Oktoberfest celebration, and enjoying the beautiful changing leaves. But the best part about fall is that it is overflowing with family friendly entertainment for individuals of all abililtes!
Apple Orchards and Pumpkin Patches
Visiting farms where apples and pumpkins are grown is both fun and educational for all ages, not to mention delicious. When visiting apple orchards and pumpkin patches, kids get to learn about the science of growing food in a fun and hands-on way. They are able to smell, touch, and taste the apples and pumpkins, and understand more about how farmers live and work. They can experience food items made with the produce, like fresh apple donuts, apple cider, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie.
Many apple orchards and pumpkin patches are conscious of the number of children with autism and sensory processing sensitivities and actively work to ensure that their facilities are fun for children of all physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities.
Check out this awesome orchard in Wisconsin that built a ramp and platform to ensure that individuals with wheelchairs could pick their own apples. It is truly cool to see places like this orchard in Minnesota who worked with the Autism Society of Minnesota specifically to make the experience a good one for all kids.
Fall Festivals & Trick-or-Treating
Autism awareness is increasing, and more and more people are talking and blogging quite openly about raising children with special needs. It makes me pretty happy to see kids of all abilities being welcomed into special sensory-friendly events. You can find these near you with a Google search or on Facebook. These often consist of fall themed crafts like pumpkin painting, games, and food.
But sometimes Halloween comes with the most problems for children with autism.
What to do when things get tough?
Trunk-or-treat events have been steadily growing in popularity. A trunk-or-treat event is a gathering of individuals or businesses who create Halloween displays in the trunks of their cars, minivans and SUVs and hand out candy. These are a nice alternative to traditional trick-or-treating because the cars park in a designated area, they are less hectic with fewer people running around, and usually occur during daytime hours. They also eliminate some of the scary aspects of Halloween, like dark streets, disturbing displays and noises, and the uncertainty of who is going to answer the door at a stranger’s house.
Again, search on Facebook events or on Google to see if there are Trunk-or-Treats in your area!
As of this blog post, some parts of the country are at full peak for their fall colors. However, there are still opportunities to go and see fall foliage on glorious display, particularly if you head to southern destinations like Tennessee, North Carolina, or Missouri.
Although simply driving around looking at leaves is fun for adults, it can be kind of boring for kids. You can incorporate other activities into your leaf viewing by stopping at rest areas or parks and really taking time to experience the leaves that have fallen already. You can teach kids about the scientific aspect of why the leaves change and fall off only to start new in the spring. You can relate this to change in their own lives and the changing of the seasons. You can also do art projects with leaves or let kids experience the different textures of dry leaves compared to freshly fallen leaves and compare all of the different colors that they become.
Since the changing colors are dependent upon weather related factors like the temperature and rain, scheduling a trip to see the leaves too far in advance can be a tricky thing to do. If you are ready to hit the road or hop on a flight for a somewhat spontaneous but also organized fall trip, you can use this cool interactive Fall Foliage Prediction Map to choose where you want to go. We can create a mini-vacation or full-fledged family vacation around your destination and incorporate as many fall activities as you like!