J-Bear and Me

learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: fun

Nightshift Morningstars

This past weekend we got to return to Boston Children’s Museum for their Morningstar Access program, only this was for the evening edition!

We’ve attended several mornings of the program since that windswept November day that initiated us in its wonders but we’d not had a chance to enjoy the evening version. The evening version, usually on a weekend, is a rare treat offered by the museum to reach out to families for whom mornings might be near impossible. I cannot state how wonderful I find this program and how much I wish more cultural institutions could implement similar access programs for children and adults that require additional supports.

The museum was quiet when we arrived, refreshed after a full day of visitors had ended an hour previous to our arrival. This allowed the museum to be peaceful, inside and out. The usual things that we braced ourselves to struggle with at the end of morning visits were not in evidence: there were no crowds, there were no lines, and there would be none of these things for our entire visit. We would not have to worry about any tears, and that kind of blew me away.

J, who is very confident around the museum now, marched in like he owned the place. He knew we buy our tickets, we place our things in a locker (even any stuffed buddies who join us) and then we go play. It was one of the first times I have been able to truly appreciate the beauty of what Morningstar Access offers to the children and families attending.

J and a lot of children with various disabilities do not just struggle with public spaces due to the fact that they’re overwhelmed beyond that which they may be able to handle. There’s the physical access part, and the fact that the general public is not always very kind or understanding to situations they have not considered. It leaves children and families like ours to be left feeling alienated and cast aside, unable to enjoy what everyone else does easily. This doesn’t happen during these beautiful 2 hours a month at the Boston Children’s Museum. I do not feel it overstating to express wonder and gratitude for this. I watched not just my son but several other children as well be able to access the space freely and by whatever means they needed. A child in a wheelchair was free to bust loose of her chair and move herself about however she felt comfortable to fully explore a construction exhibit, her energy and joy radiating for those around her to enjoy. My own son didn’t get shooed away from the water tables in his favorite exhibit or away from the train tables in the little kids area because everyone there just got what he was up to and saw no reason for issue with him lingering doing the same thing again and again. He was laughing and having fun, why break what works?

These moments of real, true freedom to be who they are within a supportive environment are things that need to become more common. We love the Boston Children’s Museum deeply for this program, even when we can’t attend, and hope that it carries on for years to come. I hope other museums and landmarks can learn from a program like this, and what it means to us.

Windswept Morningstars

This morning J and I had the pleasure of attending Morningstar Access at the Boston Children’s Museum. We had tried to go last month but life got in the way, which made me doubly determined to get there today.

Now, for those not in the Northeast, let me tell you how our morning started out: Monsoon. Heavy winds, pouring rains… it was a mess. A ridiculous mess. However, stalwart soldiers that we are, we went out in it anyway and drove the short distance from our home to the museum to attend the program.

Let me tell you, it was worth it. I’d do it again in a blizzard, in a monsoon, in a hail of frogs…. Whatever the weather was that day, I think J would shuffle on through it to get back to the Children’s Museum!

The wonder of this program is that it is a limited audience situation. The museum opens before regular hours, so that there are 2 hours families with children with special needs can enjoy with their children before the general public attends. Arriving at 8am seems daunting to not morning people yet, when you walk in to such a quiet, wide open museum it’s immediately worth the lost winks of sleep. The program is limited to 100 people, so pre-registration is required (it’s available at the link above). The cost is $7 per person, free if you are already a member of the museum.

And I’d pay the regular $14/person admission for this program.

There was nowhere in the museum apart from closed exhibits that we could not go. J explored everywhere, from the science experiments on the first level (a room full of bubbles AND a room full of ramps? Yes please!) to the Japanese House up on the third level where he fell in love with one of the museum staff. We played with construction trucks on play tables, we threw basketballs into hoops and we peddled a hand bike until it made enough energy to make a machine go. We caught shadow butterflies and we threw shadow marbles….

Seriously I didn’t know there even was this much at the Children’s Museum until we had the opportunity to truly enjoy it today.

Future Morningstar Access dates:

December 26, 2013

January 20, 2014

All sessions are 8am-10am, though you can stay on after the museum opens. We elected to leave shortly after the public came in as J was hungry and donuts had to be procured.

SenseAbility Gym

Me and my little monster had the pleasure of being invited to meet some lovely moms and kids today at SenseAbility Gym in Hopedale, MA. I was nervous about going, not because of who I would meet but because I could not predict how J might behave. However, looking back, I realize I likely never should have been.

SenseAbility Gym was conceived by people who get it. They have seen their own children struggle with sensory needs that aren’t easily met in typical environments. They are parents of the runners, crashers, bangers. They have the children who need the squeeze box, or who sometimes just need a room with dim lights and a cozy bean bag chair. They have taken the best elements of some of the local gyms for kids as well as some of the better pediatric occupational therapy or physical therapy clinics and brought it all together in a fun, clean, easy to access and easy to enjoy space. It is kid friendly and parent friendly, right down to the restroom having a changing table for those of us who have children still in need of one. 

I have taken J to places like Monkey Joes or Jump on In before, both to dramatic failure. This isn’t the fault of the facilities. Each of them are fun, bright, wild and fun for most children and for most children, I’d recommend going back again and again if you can. When you have a child with autism, sensory processing dysfunction or any other similar type of obstacle it is a place like SenseAbility that can not only give your child somewhere safe to just have fun but give you, their caregiver, somewhere to meet other adults who are dealing with what you’re dealing with. 

Thank you to Alysia for the invite and to everyone who attended for making our Sunday a great one. Little bear is sleeping like a log right now, hopefully having some good dreams about the fun he had with the boys today. 

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