A Guide To Special Needs Events, Classes and Opportunities in Erie

By Kara Murphy February 4, 2020

Are you looking for things to do in Erie with kids or adults who have special needs? There are many fun activities and events for the differently-abled or for those on the autism spectrum. Many of these activities are on hold at the moment due to COVID. Please check with the organization or business for specifics. Know of an upcoming event for families with special needs? Email me details at and I will add it to the calendar!

Several local organizations and businesses offer events or special accommodations for kids and/or adults with special needs on a regular, ongoing basis.

Autism Society of NWPA

Autism Society NWPA offers monthly FAMILY sensory and social opportunities for families to get together. The monthly outings are designed to develop:  community awareness and interaction through structured community-based experiences; and develop and maintain recreation and leisure skills.  The outings are open to all families living with an autism spectrum disorder. Recent outings have included snow tubing at Mount Pleasant, a cruise on the Scallywags pirate ship, and a play at the Erie Playhouse.

Chuck E. Cheese

Chuck E. Cheese opens two hours earlier on the first Sunday of every month specifically for children with autism and other special needs. Sensory Sensitive Sundays feature reduced lighting and noise, food and games offered, and trained and caring staff.

Erie Zoo

Erie Zoo offers a program called "Amazing Animals" for adults with special needs. Classes meet twice a month for 45 minutes. Participants meet  animals up close and personal during each class session. An aide is included in the cost as well. $8. Dates vary.

ExpERIEnce Children's Museum

Kids can check out sensory friendly backpacks upon entering the museum for free. The backpacks have materials intended to be helpful in creating a calming environment full of play. The museum also suggests families with sensory-sensitive kids visit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. During these times the museum sees less visitors and would be ideal to give children with sensory processing disorders and their families an opportunity to have a fun and enjoyable learning experience with reduced crowds, wait time, and background noise. You can also find a social story on their website that you can download prior to visiting.

Get Air

Get Air Erie offers a dedicated time just for jumpers with special needs from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturdays. Music is played at a lower volume and the park’s atmosphere is calmer. One parent or guardian can support jumpers on the trampoline for free. Siblings of jumpers are welcome to jump for the same price, but should be more careful during this time.

Lakettes and Lakers

A special needs class meets at the Summit location Saturdays.

LEGO Social Club with NWPA Autism Society

The Lego Social Club is an effective way for children and teens with social difficulties associated with an autism spectrum disorder to improve their social interactions and communication skills. The club is designed for grades K – 12 and meets the 2nd Saturday of the month. Neurotypical siblings welcome.

YMCA of Greater Erie

A new adaptive yoga class at Glenwood Y is designed for students ages 13 and older who may have difficulty participating in a traditional yoga class due to developmental delays. Membership required.

Happy Feet Dance Club, also at Glenwood Y,  embraces movement and music for the differently-abled. Ages 18-plus. Free and open to the community (membership not required).

Other Erie area fun and sports for special needs families

Much of this information was gathered from the NWPA Autism Society. You can see more details about these programs on their website at


  • Tops Basketball at Penn State Behrend: (814) 898-6398


  • LeBoeuf Little League Challengers:
  • MECA Baseball: (814) 454-9113 ext. 4
  • Millcreek MYAA Challenger Division: (814) 833-3298
  • North East Little League Challengers:  (814) 240-8507

Horseback Riding

  • Hope on Horseback: (814) 323-2156

Ice skating

  • Gliding Stars Adaptive Ice Skating Program: (814) 825-5555


  • Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience at Bayfront Maritime Center: (814) 456-4077


  • Spectrum Soccer Class at 3:23 Athletics: (814) 434-3350
  • TopSoccer at Penn State Behrend: (814) 898-6296


Barber National Institute Community Pool and Lessons: (814) 453-7661

Tumbling and dance

  • Erie Gymnastics Center: (814) 898-2936
  • Lakettes and Lakers Gymnastics Academy: (814) 864-9363
  • Spotlight Dance Studio: 814-836-7837

While Macaroni Kid does our best to keep up, please doublecheck with the business or organization to make sure event details haven't changed. 


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