Sensory-Friendly Holiday Happenings in Illinois

November 22nd, 2023

An older, dark-haired boy in a wheelchair smiles at the Christmas trees and holiday decorations that surround him

Fun, inclusive events the whole family can enjoy throughout Illinois!

How will you make memories this holiday season?

There are light displays, sensitive Santa opportunities, parades and more going on throughout Illinois.

Our Special Events page includes a roundup of opportunities designed specifically for youth with disabilities and special healthcare needs.

You can also browse this collection of special programs and event guides for opportunities to create some holiday magic and plenty of smiles:

We will continue to add holiday events and activities, so please check our Special Events page often throughout the season.

If you know of a good sensory-friendly event to share, please email us at dscc@uic.edu.

Please note, the University of Illinois Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children (DSCC) is not involved in organizing or scheduling these holiday events. If you have questions about a specific event, please contact the event sponsor or organizer.

Sensory-Friendly Easter Bunny Visits

March 3rd, 2023

Little girl smiles while hugging the Easter Bunny

Hippity-hoppity, the Easter Bunny is on its way!

Sensory-friendly Easter Bunny visits are happening at sites throughout Illinois and the St. Louis area. Individuals of all ages and abilities may schedule an appointment.

The visits will take place in a calmer, quieter environment that supports visitors’ sensory, physical and developmental needs. Autism Speaks is partnering with Cherry Hill Programs to provide these special Easter Bunny photo events.

The Bunny Cares experiences are free. Photos will be available to buy at each event.

You can see the Easter Bunny on March 26 at the following locations (in the “Reserve” section for each location, click on the “Events” button and select “Bunny Cares”):

Reservations are limited. Visit the Bunny Cares website for a complete list of sites and to reserve your spot.

Many communities are also hosting sensory-friendly egg hunts and opportunities to meet the Easter Bunny. To find these events and other family-friendly spring activities, hop on over to our Special Events page.

2020 Census Matters for Children With Special Healthcare Needs

March 4th, 2020

Census 2020 logo and the text, "Count All Kids"

The count helps support key programs and services for children and families.

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts all people in the United States. This count determines how much federal money is available for services and programs for children, including those with special healthcare needs.

By filling out the 2020 census form, parents can help ensure their children have the resources they need.

In March, the government will send every household a letter in the mail. This letter has instructions on how to fill out the census form.

The form asks for a count of everyone living at the address as of April 1, 2020. The count should include babies, young children and children with special healthcare needs and disabilities.

During the 2010 census, nearly one million young children were not counted, according to the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP).  

If young children are not counted in the 2020 census, the following programs could lose funds:

  • Medicaid
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Title I funding
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) special education funding
  • Head Start
  • Childcare and Development Block Grants

States and communities also use census data to fund and develop programs and services for children and families.  

All census responses are confidential. Your answers are not shared with anyone and are only used to count the number of people in the country.

AMCHP provides a 2020 census fact sheet for parents. (A Spanish fact sheet is also available.) It explains how the census works, how young children should be counted and confidentiality.

The U.S. Census Bureau also provides helpful resources for parents:

You can also watch the Census Bureau video below:

Focus Group: Share Your Insight About Early Intervention

March 15th, 2019

Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse logo

Families of young children with disabilities are invited to participate.

The Early Intervention Clearinghouse (EIC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is conducting focus groups with families of young children with disabilities. The purpose is to learn their perspectives about needed supports, information  and services.

Participants must be the parent or family member of a young (age birth to 8 years old) child who received Early Intervention services.

The focus groups will be held at four different locations:

  • Chicago – Family Resource Center on Disabilities, 11 E. Adams St. Suite 1002,  on March 22 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Normal – Eastview Christian Church, 1500 N. Airport Road, on March 29 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Grayslake – Therapeutic Links, 998 Progress Drive, on April 6 at 10 a.m.
  • Villa Park – Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley, 830 S. Addison Ave., on April 10 at 7 p.m.

For more information and to participate, please contact Meghan Burke at (217) 300-1226 or meghanbm@illinois.edu.