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April 02, 2018

Sesame Place becomes first theme park with autism center designation

Staff of Bucks County park will undergo sensory awareness training; 'quiet rooms' being added

Autism Amusement Parks
Sesame Place Sesame Place/Facebook

Sesame Place.

Sesame Place, the children's amusement park in the Philadelphia suburbs, has become the first theme park in the world to be designated as a certified autism center, according to the park and the organization that gave it the distinction.

The park in Langhorne, Bucks County, themed around the long-running television show "Sesame Street," announced the news on Monday — World Autism Awareness Day.

As a certified autism center, Sesame Place will require staff to undergo regular training on how to best interact with children with special needs and their families. In order to maintain the certification, Sesame Place will need to conduct the training every two years.

"Training takes place in the areas of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness as well as a comprehensive autism competency exam," a press release from the park said.

Additionally, the park is adding spaces and amenities for children on the autism spectrum. Two "quiet rooms," which will have adjustable lighting and comfortable seating, are being added to the park's Sesame Island section.

A sensory guide also will be available to families before their visit. According to the park, the guide will make it easier for families to plan their trips by providing information on how sensory processing issues may be impacted by specific attractions.

The autism center designation has been provided by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), a company made up of licensed health care professionals that provides training and certifications for other companies and groups in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.

The announcement comes a year after Julia, the first "Sesame Street" character with autism, made her first appearance at the park.

“Sesame Place is honored to be leading the theme park industry through our commitment to making our facility friendly for families with children on the spectrum,” said park president Cathy Valeriano in a press release.

Sesame Place, which is owned and operated by SeaWorld Entertainment, opens for the summer season on April 28.