Sesame Place a New Go-to Place for Families with Autistic Children
Sesame Place is a Sesame Street Themed park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. They will kick off their 38th season on April 28th as the first theme park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center.
The Sesame Street Television program has embraced autism with their muppet named Julia. Julia was introduced in 2015 as an orange-haired 4-year-old girl on the autism spectrum. This PBS show has done a great job explaining autism through this loveable character. It's no surprise since Sesame Street has always been diverse and promoted acceptance.
The Sesame Place theme park is getting much excitement from the Autism community lately and for a good reason. Often, it's difficult to find places that are fun for the entire family and cater to autistic needs or any special needs at all.
So what does it mean to be Certified?
The staff goes through extensive training on autism sensitivity, emotional awareness, sensory awareness, and in many other areas, to create an autism-friendly environment.
This certification is led by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). IBCCES has been around for almost 20 years. They have instructed educators and medial professionals around the world. They have "created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry."
The staff must take a comprehensive autism competency exam.
The staff will also receive ongoing training that will take place every two years.
What to expect when you get there.
There are amusement rides for all ages, water rides, events, many dining options, and lodging packages with partnered hotels. They will provide noise-canceling headphones on a first come first serve basis. There are quiet rooms located in two different areas for those that need a sensory break. A sensory guide will be provided to help plan activities according to sensory needs. They also offer a low sensory parade viewing. A knowledgeable and fully trained staff will be there to assist your needs.
Sesame Place also offers specialized services for all types of special needs and disabilities.
What I find wonderful about this is knowing if my 16-year-old son is overwhelmed there is staff there to help lead us in the right direction. There will be no judgment. There will be accommodations to fit our needs. Most importantly, it's inclusive.
Other autism-friendly amusement parks worth looking into:
Legoland Florida Resort in Winter Haven, Florida provide weighted blankets, quiet rooms, and staff receives special training on guests with ASD.
Thomas Land at Edaville Family Theme Park, Carver, Massachusetts provide items such as weighted blankets, fidget toys and a quiet car on the Thomas train.
Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, an all-inclusive amusement park with wheelchair accessibility and a sensory village.
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennesse had noticed a growth of their guests on the autism spectrum and has worked to accommodate their guests. They created a calming room with soft lighting and toys for those who need a sensory break.
What do you think of Sesame Place?
If you are looking for Autism-friendly vacation destinations, please also read my previous story titled "Autism-friendly vacations for special needs families."