Sesame Place is a must-visit theme park destination for families, but for kids with autism, the whole experience can be overwhelming, with the crowds, loud noises and larger-than-life costumed characters from the award-winning broadcast, “Sesame Street.”
Just in time for National Autism Awareness Month, Sesame Place announced last week that it is the first theme park in the world to become a Certified Autism Center (CAC).
“This is a huge step in the autism community,” says Lindsey Del Carlino, associate director of programs at the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support at Saint Joseph’s University. “Now families affected by autism can go and enjoy the theme park in a supported environment.”
The certification was granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), an organization that has spent the last 20 years providing autism training to licensed healthcare professionals.
The team members at Sesame Place completed this training, and in order to maintain the certification, must go through the program every two years.
“As the first theme park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC, Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” says Sesame Place park president Cathy Valeriano in a press release. “Robust pre-visit planning resources will be added to the park’s website including a sensory guide, developed by IBCCES. This sensory guide will make it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations by providing insight on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for each attraction. The park will also have two quiet rooms located on Sesame Island. These rooms will have adjustable lighting, and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.”
According to Del Carlino, “Sesame Street” and Sesame Place have always been ahead of the conversation in regards to autism awareness.
“They even designed a puppet that has autism (Julia) and they talk about autism on the show,” she says. “Kids are home are able to watch ‘Sesame Street’ and get more exposure to kids with autism, which can help them when they meet kids at school with the condition.”
With 1 in 68 children being affected by autism, moving the conversation from awareness to action is more important than ever.
“Hopefully, Sesame Place’s certification will encourage other organizations to get theirs as well,” says Del Carlino. “It’s more than having a quiet space — it’s having a trained staff.”
Sesame Place is located at 100 Sesame Rd. in Langhorne, PA.
The park opens on April 28 for the 2018 season.
For more information, visit: sesameplace.com.