Sesame Place Receives Certified Autism Center Designation
This is so amazing! Going to an amusement or theme park is almost a right of passage as a kid. But for parents of children with autism, it can be an incredibly difficult experience. Amusements parks are loud, crowded, and brimming with sensory stimulation. For children on the spectrum, it can be overwhelming. And while some parks have made accommodations for families with children with autism, no one has gone above and beyond like Sesame Place. The Sesame Street-themed amusement park in Pennsylvania has undergone a major renovation and redesign, to make the park more accessible and enjoyable for ALL families. The redesign has earned them the first ever Certified Autism Center designation given to an amusement park. Seriously, this is great news!
Sesame Place has been open since 1980, and has been a favorite destination for families for years.
The park operates on limited hours from September – December, and then closes for the season in January. During the closure this year, the park made a series of renovations and changes. The changes were specially designed to make the park a more inclusive place for children with autism. And it sounds like they really put a lot of thought into the issues these families face.
Sesame Place partnered with the The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to design a park that can be enjoyed by everyone.
In order to become a Certified Autism Center, the park implemented a variety of standards to make visitors with autism more comfortable. They have a Ride Accessibility Program, which means that every ride in the park meets the specific needs and individual abilities of each rider. The park also installed Quiet Rooms throughout, where guests can go for some relief from the all the sensory stimulation. Guests with hearing sensitivity can also request a pair of WhispEars, or noise-cancelling headphones. They are provided free of charge. There are special low-sensory areas throughout the park, as well as low-sensory parade viewing seating.
In addition, in order to secure their Autism Center designation, 80% of the park staff had to undergo special training in sensory awareness, motor skills, autism overview, program development, social skills, communication, environment, and emotional awareness.
Sesame Street also recently introduced Julia, a character with autism. Kids and families will be able to have a meet-and-greet with the adorable muppet.
Sesame Place reopens on April 28, and all these amazing changes will be available to the public. Here’s hoping more amusement and theme parks get on board, and make their parks more accessible and enjoyable for ALL kids!
(Image: Facebook / Sesame Place)