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Special needs programs for kids in New York City

These special needs programs around the city let kids participate in everything from music lessons to swim class

Every kid should be able to follow their dreams, whether it's taking an exciting dance class, appearing on the silver screen for the next generation's best kids movies, riding a horse or trying a new sport. Helping everyone from high-functioning kids with learning disabilities to those with more serious differences, these special needs programs for kids allow children to grow in environments that work within their limitations without limiting their potential.

Karma Kids Yoga Classes

Karma Kids studio helps kids find their mental and physical balance by imitating animals, playing games and listening to stories. Beginning Jan 26 2015, they'll hold Special Needs yoga classes (10 classes for $350). Expect kids to run through engaging yoga poses, games and breathing exercises. Parents are welcome to hang out during class or can drop off their child, depending on the child's needs. All ages.

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Brooklyn Public Library, Flatbush Branch

The extensive Brooklyn public library system prides itself on its offerings for children, especially its youth programs and facilities—designated spaces where kids can read, study, and use computers for homework or game playing—which are found at each and every branch. Regular toddler storytimes and free cultural events are on tap throughout the borough, plus The Child's Place for Children with Special Needs (located at BPL Flatlands, Greenpoint, Red Hook, Saratoga and Sunset Park) offers unique programs for kids with disabilities through age 12. Enjoy free classes including puppet shows, hands-on musical play with instruments and storytelling.

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Daniel's Music Foundation

Offering up to 50 free music classes per semester for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities, Daniel's Music Foundation is definitely in demand! Get on the waiting list and find out more about the program by contacting Nadine McNeil (212-289-8912). Classes include recreational singing, drumming and percussion, lyric composition, guitar and keyboard to name a few. For those unable to make a commitment to a series of classes, check out DMF's Dance Parties, Karaoke Nights and Family Jam Sessions for a small fee. Ages 3 and up.

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Upper East Side

Snack*, UES

Geared to those with Autism Spectrum Disorders and similar behavioral or developmental disabilities, Snack* offers programs like a Snacktivities class ($130 per two-hour class) to help improve skill levels and social interaction, a swim program ($70 per 30-minute lesson) with a one-on-one teaching and a soccer and sports program ($55 per 45-minute class) with a maximum of eight students. Snack* even offers a free trial class for you and your kids to see if it's a good fit! Ages 3 and up.

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Upper East Side


Funded by the JCC in Manhattan, this program includes swimming, soccer, gymnastics, Jewish culture, yoga and music-therapy classes for kids with a variety of needs, including high-functioning autism and learning disabilities. The Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs offers various programs, including Kulam:Together Children, Family and Community, where kids can take classes in music, socialization, ceramics, theater, fitness, art and more. Other programs include Boosti, Aquatics and SibFun. Ages 3 and up.

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Upper West Side

Power Play

When it's either too cold or too hot for tykes to play outside, Powerplay's air-conditioned indoor play space allows them to have fun in the tree house, play house, sandbox and slides. The center also offers birthday parties and classes in tennis, mini golf, rock climbing and gymnastics. Special needs children are welcome at all Powerplay classes—parents, make sure to call for an intake form to let instructors know everything they need to give your kids the best possible experience. Ages 9mos and up.

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Ready, Set, Play!

Kids can join in on an Integrated Playgroup or Social Skills playgroup class, where they'll practice everything from sensory play to show and tell, group circle, turn-taking and sharing in an intimate class setting. Ages 2 to 9.

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Financial District

McBurney YMCA

McBurney YMCA offers KOL: Special Needs and Inclusion Programs including Saturday art, swim and sports classes for kids. Free workshops are also held 6–8 times per year for parents on Saturdays. Ages 4 to 17.

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