Summer is finally upon us as the weather is finally catching up to the calendar, at least here in the Northeast! More than any other time of year, summer tends to present the most opportunities for family outings and less structured leisure time. A staple for many kids is visiting amusement parks, which certainly present their own challenges to families living with autism. Finally, there is an option that can calm everyone’s anxieties and promise a fun time for all.

 

“You must be this tall to ride!” is a sign that accompanies many rides at theme parks across the world. Maybe it will also caution people with certain physical challenges against riding. But what if it’s the sound of music that could be the most detrimental part of your experience? The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards has designated Sesame Place as a Certified Autism Center, making it the first theme park to be granted this certification. As part of their partnership, IBCCES has developed a Sensory Guide that gives a description of each activity available at the park along with detailed ratings of the stimulation level for each of the five senses: touch, taste, sound, smell, and sight. This predictability is invaluable for caregivers who can plan their visit around sensory needs and have a plan in place to address any situations that could arise during their visit. 

 

Beyond the attractions, Sesame Place offers noise-cancelling headphones, low sensory areas, and designated low sensory parade viewing spots to guests who may become overwhelmed. In addition to the Sesame Street veterans like Big Bird and Elmo, guests can meet the newcomer Muppet Julia, “a sweet and curious 4-year-old with autism.” She shows how people who act and learn differently make all of our communities that much more special and interesting. 

 

Here’s to a fun-filled summer for all families this year!

 

Lisa Collins

Director of Operations & Programs

Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism