We love being invited to spend a few hours at Pretend City. If you have never been it's a full hands on museum in Irvine that caters to younger kids ages 0 to 8. Pretend City is also very user friendly to kiddos on the spectrum, boasting sensory fixes at every turn. If you have never been or heard of this place it's a city sized for kids right here in So Cal. There is everything you would expect to find in a typical neighborhood. There is a bank, grocery store, library and even a garden area to name a few of the exhibits. It's a bit of a drive for us but one of my daughters favorite places to play. With featured exhibits, special events and a room to hold private birthday parties, your time at the museum will always be filled with learning, fun, personal discovery and growth.
One of my girls favorite areas the wharf where you can build your own boat and catch fish, (fisherman costumes and boots aplenty, Ahoy there!) there is a beach filled with sand for the land lovers in your group as well.
At Pretend City Children’s Museum kids are welcome to run free and explore in a safe environment, at your child's own pace and skill level with no lines or limits as to how long they can be at any one space. The city has everything from a grocery store to a dentist office to a Pizza kitchen. Children are encouraged to do the jobs at each station and earn a completion stamp that is redeemed for Pretend City “Cash" at the bank.
For children on the spectrum it is a great opportunity to play along with others, dress up and get sensory fixes in. There are many opportunities to use their fine motor skills in a play based fashion which is a sheer joy for any parent like me. Having our children play and learn along sides their peers as well as learning life skills is such a rare find. If by chance your little one does become over stimulated or has auditory processing issues, Pretend City has head phones available at the front desk along with other calming items. We have visited Pretend City Children’s Museum many times now and my Spectrum gal loves it.
Autism Pros/ Cons and Tips:
- There are several sensory opportunities
- So many different areas of pretend play, there is always plenty room to join in with props and costumes to further enrich the play/learning.
- Exhibits are spread out to not over whelm or cause crowding
- No loud sudden noises, head phones are available if needed as well as other calming and fine motor aides.
- Age range from 0 to 8 but our ASD kids can benefit beyond that age I feel.
- Special private autism nights for families and therapy provider, RSVP necessary.
- Lots of staff support in the museum to aid and assist with the different exhibits.
- Separate area for the little ones that is extra padded and central in the museum.
- You are welcome to bring your own snacks
- I would allot 2-3 hours for your visit and check their web site for any special events as they have them often.
- If you live nearby I would highly recommend a membership. You get special invites to events, members only hours, discounts on birthday parties, and for ASD parents your child's therapist gets in at no charge.
Pretend City M.A.P supports families with special needs children. There are also special Family Autism Events for FREE, Reservations Required. So if you are interested in going, but nervous about how your child will be, these special events are an opportunity for children and their parents/siblings/caretakers to have some fun in an autism-friendly environment along with other families. Many of Pretend City community partners, who specialize in supporting children on the autism spectrum, are on-hand to enrich your family’s play experience with welcoming smiles and practical support. Call for dates and times or check their website.
Our thanks to Pretend City for having us, we always look forward to visiting, see you soon!