Sesame Place has become a Certified Autism Center.
It’s April, and that means it’s National Autism Awareness Month, the month where you become more aware of people, and especially children, living with autism. Autism is a medical condition whereby neurons and synapses in the brain organize themselves differently than other people. It’s typically thought of as a genetic condition, but there is some evidence to support environmental causes.
Children with autism can have a tough time out in public, and especially at amusement parks. Crowds, lineups, and big and scary rides can be confusing and scary to the best of us, let alone an autistic child. That’s why Sesame Place, the Sesame Street theme park located in Pennsylvania, decided to become the first ever amusement park to become officially Autism certified.
Certification is performed by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. They take every Sesame Place staff member and provide them comprehensive training on the autistic experience, including sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness. Staff then must pass an exam and go through the training again every two years to retain their certification.
What this effectively means is that Sesame Place staff are trained to meet the needs of autistic children, as well as make sure they’re having a great time at the park.
Becoming Autism Certified follows the direction of the show, which recently introduced its first autistic character, four-year-old Julia. She joined the show’s staff last April as a recurring character and is performed by puppeteer Stacey Gordon, who has an autistic son.
Sesame Place received a Julia costume late last fall to keep up with the show, and so far she’s been a big hit.
“Since her debut, Sesame Street’s Julia has touched the lives of millions of children and families around the world and we’re proud that partners like Sesame Place are committed to providing autism-friendly experiences,” said Scott Chambers, Senior Vice President and General Manager, North America Media and Licensing, Sesame Workshop, told In-Park Magazine. “We applaud them for earning this distinction.”
Sesame Place opens April 28th, so mark your calendars and prepare for a road trip.