Everyone needs play - Inclusive Playgroups for children with Autism

Facilitating Play and building meaningful friendships for children with disabilities and their peers.

Wednesdays at 10am (when Recess is closed to the public).

Led by an Autism Specialist, our unique playgroups provide an exciting opportunity for children of all abilities to come together to learn, play, and grow. The groups will be led by experienced play facilitators, who will plan creative and engaging activities.

The play will give the children a chance to interact with each other, practice social skills and communication, pretend, and explore a variety of different toys and materials. The Recess Collective play space features toys and equipment for gross motor play, manipulation and sensory play, cooperative games, and pretend play. The space will be sensory friendly and the routines will be predictable and safe for children of all ability levels.


Who can join? 
Children between the ages of 0-4. We will group children together based on their age as much as possible.

What if my child has behavior problems? 
The play facilitators are trained behaviorists and special educators, who have experience helping children with challenging behaviors. They will work with the family to develop a plan to prevent and respond appropriately to challenging behaviors as they come up.

What if my child is nonverbal? 
We would love to have children who communicate differently join our group. We look forward to teaching their peers about sign language, gestures, and AAC devices. If your child is nonverbal because they are just not developmentally ready to speak, that is also great! We will be learning about social cues and communication for infants and toddlers.

Who will facilitate? 
The lead facilitator will be Janelle Dowling, MA. She is the owner of Our Autism Specialist, LLC. She provides support for inclusive practices in preschools, elementary schools, and middle schools all over the Bay Area. She also organizes and leads several play groups for children ranging in age from 0-18. She has a masters and credential as an Education Specialist with a focus in Extensive Support Needs. She also has an endorsement from the California DeafBlind program, where she learned about working with children with multiple sensory challenges.

Although Janelle’s business focuses primarily on providing consultation and direct support to families with children and teens with autism, she has taught and supported children who experience a variety of disabilities, including Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Angelman’s Syndrome, ADHD, and children who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Please do not hesitate to contact us and see if the group and the staff’s experience feel like a good fit for your child. Janelle will also be partnering with volunteers to support the groups and will be recruiting to find adults who are the best match for our participants.

When do the groups meet? 
Every Wednesday except the last one of each month. There will be two groups. The first will meet from 10-10:45am and from 11:15-12pm.

What will happen there? 
The agenda might vary slightly each week and depending on the group’s needs, but we will include greetings, music, snack, an organized group activity, and some free play before clean up.

How much will it cost? 
The cost is $18 per session and we prefer that families pay for 3 sessions at a time in a $45 package.

Please spread the word!

Sensory Friendly Playtime - It's Here!

For some children, particularly those with autism or sensory processing disorders, a visit to a space like Recess can be difficult or overstimulating.  Kids melt down.  Music, bright lights, and a lot of action are just too much to take in all at one time.  

This summer, we are thrilled to be launching a program that's been in the works for years, Recess for All.

Since we opened nearly 10 years ago, Recess' playspace, has been inclusive. We welcome children of all abilities, from all walks of life. We have welcomed ABA therapists with special professional memberships who meet their clients at Recess. We've had children on the Autism spectrum come for open play and join our Precess program.  Kiddos with a variety of other developmental delays, sensory processing disorders and physical disabilities have been able to thrive at Recess.  

But we've always known we could do more to meet the needs of all children. So last fall, we brought together a team of professionals (a Special Ed PhD, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, Pediatric PTs, parents, advocates, an infant mental health specialist & a recreational therapist) and launched our Recess For All initiative. Through this incredible brainstorm, were able to pull together expertise from a variety of disciplines and identify ways to make Recess more inclusive during open hours, and more useful for children with disabilities during times Recess is closed to the general public.

Our first sensory friendly playtime is July 26.  

With this new offering, our goal is to support families of children with autism or sensory processing disorders by providing these Sensory Friendly Playtimes events every month. Our first one will be July 26, 2017.  

We'll be limiting the number of families who can attend at any given time, turning down the lights and sounds, providing adaptive equipment for those who would like it and, if available, bringing in volunteer therapists to create a welcoming environment for families who wouldn’t be able to visit during regular hours.  

During these play times, we'd love your feedback.  Whether you are a parent or a professional, we want to know how we can create the most optimal environment for your child to play.  

Other goals under Recess for All:

  • Increase Recess' library of resources for parents who are curious about their child's development, those who are just starting down the path of diagnosis and the families who are looking to connect with others in the same boat. If you have books or resources to donate, please get in touch.  If you are in need of resources, let us know!
  • Build a lending library of various tools to be available for kids who need them.
  • Starting in the fall, host support groups for parents.  
  • Starting in the fall, provide childcare for children during designated times, while parents can take a break, work in the Workspace, or use the community room to chat with others, read a book, meditate. 

What else would you like to see?  How else can we support YOUR family? Please let us know. 

Is your child a candidate for Sensory Friendly Playtime?

Tell us more as we organize sign ups:

Parent/ Professional Name *
Parent/ Professional Name
Child's Name
Child's Name
Date of Birth
Date of Birth
Preferred Playtime on 7/26 *
Please check all that would work for your family


Visit our Recess For All page for additional information.