The Sesame Street theme park, Sesame Place, just won the title of the world’s first amusement park designated as a Certified Autism Center! Located just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the theme park is beloved by fans of the show everywhere. But when it partnered with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to ensure that all of its staff received autism-based trainings, it opened its doors to children with autism in a unique way.
Staff members at Sesame Place are trained and prepared in a number of different subject areas relating to the needs of children with disabilities. These include:
- Motor Skills
- Emotional Awareness
- Social Skills
- Sensory Awareness
- Autism Overview
- Program Development
Beyond its specialized staff, Sesame Place also has features that specifically cater to kids with autism and other disabilities.
Sesame Place offers noise-cancelling headphones provided by KidCo, which can be picked up at The Welcome Center or the Family Care Center. They also have two designated quiet rooms, which offer quiet time, comfortable seating, and adjustable lighting for those in need of sensory breaks. Finally, the Sesame Place website offers information on low-sensory areas of the park (spots that tend to be less populated) and low-sensory parade viewing options.
Sesame Place offers a broad range of resources for individuals with disabilities, including accessible parking, segways, wheelchair and ECV rentals, an accessible parade viewing area, sign language interpretation and show scripts for those with hearing impairments, visual impairment supports, and others.
The Ride Accessibility Program (RAP) matches the individual abilities of the guest to the requirements of each ride. Upon request, guests are given a form to fill out and will then receive a list of rides that match their needs and abilities. Guests enrolled in the RAP may also be eligible for priority boarding of the rides through the Special Access Program.
If children with autism or other disabilities would like to dine with characters but prefer to be seated far away from them or have limited interaction with them, they can contact the Accessible Dining team. They can also reach out to the park staff about receiving additional assistance while dining. Finally, the park offers exceptions to the limitations on outside food or drink to individuals with dietary restrictions. They provide detailed allergen information on their website.
Information: Sesame Place’s Sensory Guide & Travel Tips
As a Certified Autism Center, Sesame Place offers a helpful IBCCES Sensory Guide on their website, which explains how some of the rides at the theme park may affect children with sensory processing issues. Their website also contains information on traveling with autism through Autism Travel and tips on how to simplify everyday activities for those with autism through See Amazing in All Children.
During your visit to Sesame Place, be sure to meet and take photos with Julia, the first Sesame Street character on the autism spectrum!
- Sesame Place: Certified Autism Center
- CBS News: Sesame Place is world’s first theme park to become certified autism center