There is a growing population of children with special needs. Special needs can refer to a wide range of diagnoses. Children with special needs may have learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, chronic illness, physical disabilities, developmental delays, or mental health issues. In Massachusetts, approximately 17% of children enrolled in public schools have a special needs disability.
In 2013, the Museum launched Morningstar Access, a program to welcome children with special or medical needs and their families to the Museum. The popular program provides a time for families to visit the Museum when there are few other visitors, creating a quiet and less crowded environment that could otherwise be overwhelming. The program has grown steadily with over 9,000 children and adults having participated since it began. Museum staff are trained to assist visitors and ensure they are comfortable. Museum staff also work with visitors to help them prepare for their visit using our Social Stories book that parents can use to show their children what to expect.