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Special Needs Families

Special Times for Special Families

Special Time Video
Special Times for Special Families award-winning video

FREE Quarterly Play Dates

Habitot hosts FREE quarterly play dates open to all families with children with special needs , 0-5. The event is a special celebration that is fun for the whole family. These after-hours play dates are open to the public and great times for children and families to play with our hands-on exhibits, explore the Art Studio and enjoy family bonding time in a safe, accessible and fun environment.

All of our "Special Times for Special Families" programs are currently funded by the Sam Mazza Foundation.

Next Free Special Needs Playdates:

Sunday May 19th 2019 10:00am-1:00pm
Register here

Sunday August 4th 2019 2:00pm-5:00pm
Register here

Partnerships with Agencies Serving Special Needs

Habitot partners with many agencies serving children with special needs and their families to give children with special needs time and space to acclimate to the Museum, and receive adaptive support in using the exhibits. These include:

CEID (Center for Early Intervention of Deafness)
Blind Babies Foundation
Life Steps Foundation
Down Syndrome Connection
YMCA's Swim & Gym Program
Alameda County Office of Education's Infant & Family Support Program
Through the Looking Glass
Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation

Children with Down syndrome, on the autism spectrum, with vision or hearing impairments, or medical fragility are just some of the children with special needs who visit Habitot regularly with their parents and caregivers.

These visits may take place during Museum open hours or after-hours for exclusive time in the Museum.

Scheduling a Visit

For information or to schedule a special needs family group visit, contact us at 510-647-1111 x16 or

How "Special Times" Make a Difference

Exclusive, after-hours visits in the Museum allow children to acclimate. They give children time and space to explore Habitot's hands-on exhibits and art projects without all the extra stimulation of drop-in visitors. Staff are available to assist children with special needs as needed. Children with special needs are excited to play and learn at their own pace and level of development and practice socialization in a safe environment.

Parent to Parent Support Benefits Everyone

Parents also appreciate the opportunity for building community among peers with children with special needs. Parents enjoy watching their children succeed at new tasks and connecting socially with other children.

As one mother of a child with autism said, “When we’re out in the world, we're so aware of being different, but when we’re here, we know that we're surrounded by people who understand. There’s no judgment here, so we’re able to relax more. And when we can relax, so can our kids.”

Free Return Visit Passes

Free return visit passes are provided for each family.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Special Times for Special Families are made possible, in part, by grants from the Sam Mazza Foundation, (2013, 2014) the Western Digital Foundation (2013), and the Wells Fargo Foundation. (2012)

Sam Mazza     

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