Face it, we live in the Northeast and it’s cold here. But we are lucky at the same time for having such an abundance of activities for children with autism here in Binghamton where the price of homes is less, the schools are top-rated and overall a family-friendly area to settle in.
One place that is by far the one of the best in the entire northeast is The Discovery Center, our local award-winning children’s museum that focuses on hands-on imaginative play, also has activities for older kids during weekends and school breaks. They charge a small admission fee, but a chance to engage your child with autism using many of the things they are fascinated with like a real fire truck, ambulance, and best of all water tables for hours of play! That’s why is nationally recognized as one of the BEST children’s museums in the country!
Don’t forget that while engaging your child in the activities is a perfect time to teach repetitive skills for learning speech. If your child is copying you or children around him, chances are he will learn speech much faster. There is no better engagement for 1:1 with your child than making a huge bubble or playing with water in a spinning funnel.
The next place we have where there is a chance for creating friendships that will last from toddlerhood on through is at Skate Estate. This is a great place for those winter mornings for kids under 7 and their moms to come together. It is the only rink open during school hours and offers a session just for younger kids is called “Trike, Trot and Roll”. Preschoolers can bring in bikes (the rink has a few trikes), push toys or just run around. Skate rental is available if kids want to try skating, or the parent wants to get exercise (and the child cooperates). Coupons are available on their website. Admission fee includes skate rental, popcorn and juice. Laser tag, miniature golf and a water slide are also available.
Jumping up and down nonstop and too cold for the backyard trampoline? Well check out these indoor inflatable structures for a fun place that a child with autism and their siblings can do and do something that they both enjoy doing. Great place for moms to meet other moms as well! One is the Blade Sports in Conklin, the other is Jumping Jungle in Vestal and the third is Taylor Rental in the northern part of Binghamton also has a tool rental business, but call first for inflatable play hours.
How about just a place to have some quiet conversation while your child is supervised, but at the same time not worrying if they “get it” about autism. Call the Cornell Cooperative Extension Family Resource Center, which has as three different rooms for the kids to enjoy while caregivers get a chance to socialize while watching their children interact with each other at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 20 Jefferson Avenue, Endicott, 785-4331 or the Binghamton PALS Family Resource Center 457 State St., Binghamton, 771-6334 is another free play area for kids.
Quiet activities includes our great library system here. Contact the The Four County Library System has lots of activities for kids of all ages including story times. The Vestal library has toys to borrow, and most branches in Broome County have things for kids to play with in the children’s section. In the summer, look for free performances in the afternoon or evening. Note that not all the libraries in the systems post their events on the events page. While in Tioga County residents are served by the Finger Lakes Library System, with story times and other free events open to the public. For more information, visit the branch in Owego or Appalachian or any other location.
Another chance for some socialization is to call Michaels or A.C. Moore where free activities are often associated with holidays. Or there is Nuwaka, where your child can design their own clothes and t-shirts!
Of course, you know kids with autism, they love the cold and could stay out all day and need constant physical activity, so maybe take advantage of that and get some exercise as a family. Try going on a hike at Waterman Nature Center, not far from Owego, has a special kid-friendly trail where their fascination and knowledge of birds can be fulfilled. Binghamton University Nature Preserve is also a favorite hiking spot. The greenhouse (buillding Science 3 near the Anderson Center) is open to the public. Check out the Owego River Walk which connects Ahwaga Park and Draper Park.
Lastly, the Vestal Rails to Trails is flat, allows for some side exploring and some time at the playground along the way! So be sure to check out all of these fun activities here in Binghamton, NY that are also autism and family friendly.