UPDATED 2022 Special Needs Events and Resources in Northwest Arkansas

By Kara Ault, Macaroni Kid Fayetteville Publisher February 15, 2017

Looking for events that are special-needs friendly or resources for your special needs child? Here are some in Northwest Arkansas we know of-  Please contact me at if you know of others we should consider including in this guide. Please share with friends if you find this guide helpful. Click the link of each for more info.

Ability Tree Sensory-Friendly Movies- Ability Tree and Siloam Springs 6 are partnering together to offer families a “sensory-friendly” movie experience on a monthly basis. “Sensory-friendly” means lights are up a little, sound is down a bit, and movie goers are free to move around as needed. 

Ability Tree Art-Ability Art Classes- Art Ability is an interactive art program for children with and without special needs in grades K through 12. The program spans 6 weeks, with 1 session per week, followed by a public art show for the families and the community. Pre-registration is required for each 6 week session.

Ability Tree- After-School Program in Siloam Springs is for children with special needs and their siblings in K-5th grade. Mon-Thurs, 3-5:30 PM.  Pre-registration is required- limit of 15 kids.

AMC Fiesta Square- Sensory-Friendly Movies- This program provides a special opportunity for families affected by autism to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums dedicated to the program will have their lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing! Every second & fourth Saturday of the month at 10:00 AM.  Movies listed on Macaroni Kid calendar. Cost $4.16/ticket. 479 575 0026 for more info.

rEcess- 99 Balloons- Local churches, using the 99 Balloons model, provide this free respite program for children with special needs & their siblings. Siblings are overseen by volunteers and enjoy their own activities. rEcess is for children experiencing disability. We have one core objective. FUN! No therapy, no doctors or paid caregivers. Children experiencing disability are paired one on one with an adult friend whose sole objective is to make rEcess the best night of their week.
rEcess is for siblings. Siblings are often forgotten on the spectrum of family care– not at rEcess. rEcess is also a break for our siblings to have lots of fun and connect with other siblings who understand what it is like to have a brother or sister experiencing disability. We have dedicated sibling volunteers and programming just for rEcess siblings. Pre-registration is required. 

Local rEcess locations:

Bentonville: New Heights Church:

Decatur: Decatur Assembly of God: 

Fayetteville: Christ Community Church:

Fayetteville: Grace Church NWA:
Rogers: Fellowship Bible Church NWA:

NWA Sunshine School- Weekend Retreat
Six times a year we take 15 clients with special needs to such places as Roaring River, Eureka Springs, Arkansas Baptist Assembly, and Mount Sequoyah where they fish, swim, go on hayrides and hikes, and find their creative side by doing crafts. The Retreaters’ family enjoy the break they have from what is often 24-hour care. It gives them relief knowing their loved one is in the very capable hands of the retreat staff.
Eligibility: 3 years of age and over who meet Arkansas Developmental Disability guidelines.
For further information, contact Amy Palmer, Director of Community Support Services.

United We Dance NWA- provides a monthly free dance for individuals of all ages with special needs.

Inspire to Aspire Dance-  Class is free and meets from 5:45-6:30 PM every other Thursday at Barbell Disciples Gym in Centerton. Dance class is for students of all abilities. That includes any disability-  physical disabilities, and neurodiverse kids too! We have students ranging in age from 2-26. Contact Molly Hargus with questions-  479-721-5000

Miracle League Arkansas- baseball league for kids with a disability. The field is at Randall Tyson Park in Springdale.

NWA Mom to Mom- Mom 2 Mom is a non-denominational, faith-based support group for mothers of special need’s children of any age.  This group will help special needs mothers to grow in His love through prayer, sharing with other moms and supporting each other in our journey through life’s day to day triumphs and challenges.  Our group will be having monthly Mom's Night Out events each month and other events for moms and also for our families throughout the year. Contact Susan at 479-366-2713 or at

Autism Involves Me- AIM hosts monthly events for the autism community to engage in. It is a time to meet great people in an environment safe for individuals on the autism spectrum. In addition, we bring professional resources and information sources to the Northwest Arkansas Community to inform and educate parents and caregivers on key information to know.

AIM Teens- A new group designed specifically for NWA Teens on the Spectrum
Welcome Teens and Parents! This new teen division will focus on providing social opportunities for teens on the Autism Spectrum to find and make lasting connections and lifetime friendships. Social skills are an important foundation of having positive relationships with others like friends, partners, and peers. Each social event will focus on key social skills sessions and will provide them with a structured social atmosphere to practice!
Are you on Facebook? Be sure to join our private AIM Teens Facebook Group. There you will be in a safe space to discuss all things Teens, find other families to connect with, and stay up to date on activies. We are so excited about this new adventure!

Down Syndrome Connection of NWA- The Down Syndrome Connection of Northwest Arkansas has been supporting families in Northwest Arkansas, since 2002. What started as a group of parents supporting each other has turned into a professional, working organization of parents, friends, business leaders, volunteers, educators, therapists and others, working to provide a connection in our community.  We hope you will join us in our continued growth. Our mission is to facilitate inclusion and respect for individuals with Down syndrome within the Northwest Arkansas Community, ensuring that they have access to the support and the resources necessary to reach their full potential at all stages of life. Our vision is a Northwest Arkansas Community in which individuals with Down syndrome are able to participate in a meaningful way at work and at play, are able to achieve their aspirations, and are welcomed as valued community members.

Sources for Community Independent Living- The Mission of SOURCES for Community Independent Living Services is to promote the independence of persons with disabilities by facilitating and supporting their full integration and participation in ALL aspects of community life. SOURCES provides services, support, and advocacy for individuals with disabilities, their families and the community. We are dedicated to consumer-directed services, recognizing that individuals who know the most about their service and support needs are individuals themselves. All services and activities reflect this philosophy.

Arkansas Hands & Voices- Arkansas Hands & Voices supports all families with children who are deaf / hard of hearing regardless of communication choice. We embrace parent and professional collaboration to enable deaf / hard of hearing children to reach their full potential.

Bailey & Oliver's Kids Foundation- Bailey & Oliver’s Kids Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c )(3) organization established in 2011 to provide resources for helping children in need. The Kids Foundation supports hOofin' iT, Occupational Therapy Services.  HOofin’ iT, hippotherapy (equine therapy) provides specialized occupational and/or physical therapy for children with diverse needs. By using horses and outdoor activities, students are motivated to reach therapy goals in a fun and natural environment.  Learn more at

Courage Therapeutic Riding Center- Courage Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing equine-assisted activities and therapeutic riding to under-resourced individuals. Our vision is to stimulate, motivate, and engage individuals to create a deeper connection with themselves and others. We promote independence, personal growth, and presence of mind through equine-assisted activities.
Staffed with PATH International-certified instructors, Courage evaluates the needs and abilities of each individual client. Through our services, we provide a unique, experiential opportunity for all ages and abilities.

Horses for Healing, Inc.- To improve the quality of life for individuals with special needs through therapeutic riding programs, with an emphasis on children. Programs are provided regardless of ability to pay. Horses for Healing NWA is a nonprofit adaptive horsemanship center in Northwest Arkansas for individuals with special needs, run by a passionate Farm Team and Board of Directors. We pride ourselves on making great strides in children’s lives. Our adaptive riding program has helped thousands of children learn balance, coordination, self-confidence, and teamwork over the past 30 years, and we look forward to working with special needs children in this area for many years to come. Located conveniently west of Bentonville, Horses for Healing supports it's mission by operating a full-service boarding facility with stalls, rolling pastures, a covered arena, and an outdoor lighted arena, on 75 stunning acres. At Horses for Healing, our participants find success in the saddle and in life.

Northwest Arkansas Community Parent Resource Center-  Arkansas Support Network’s (ASN) Family Support Program received a federal grant to fund the Northwest Arkansas Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC)--the first in the state—and serve families of children with disabilities ages birth through 26. It serves four counties, Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington. The NWA CPRC, while advocating for children in special education,  specifically emphasizes training and information for all families, including:  foster families, parents who are working to reunite with their children, and the parents of young people in the juvenile justice system, and self advocates. In addition, the CPRC collaborates with professionals working with these three groups. We would love to hear from you! For more information, contact us at  or call (479)927-4100.
To learn more about ASN visit

Like this information & want to stay in-the-know on all local kid-friendly events in Northwest Arkansas? Subscribe for free to our weekly e-newsletter and calendar of local events here.

For a comprehensive listing of state and national organizations that provide support and education for families impacted by special needs please visit the Center for Exceptional Families online listing here.

Thanks to Macaroni Kid sponsors Arkansas Children's Hospital NW & Pediatric Dental Associates & Orthodontics for sponsoring this guide.