(WBRE/WYOU-TV) For families with children with Autism and other special needs, summer travel can be daunting-- theme parks and resorts across the country are taking steps to make taking a family vacation just a little bit easier. Recently one park outside Philadelphia became the first to be designated as a Certified Autism Center.
"He has to get a picture and a high five and then he's on to the next guy."
Jerry Turning is a Father of whose Son, Eric is 14 years olf and was diagnosed with autism at 2 1/2-3 years old."
"For some reason my son connected with Sesame Place, he loves the characters, he loves the energy here" Turning said,
Cathy Valeriano is the Park President, Sesame Place she notes "Recently we were designated as a certified autism center through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards."
Valeriano adds, "We're really proud to have this certification here, being the first theme park in the world to be designated as a Certified Autism Center"
"Acording to the IBCCES, 1 in 64 children are diagnosed annually with ASD...it's important that our team members understand and are better equipped to be able to welcome those guests into our park." noted Valeriano,
Jerry Turning/Father of Son with Autism: ".If you find a place like this that they're understanding and are willing to accommodate- it makes it so much easier. it could be the difference between a family having to cut a vacation short and go home and actually staying and enjoying the trip as a family." Turning added.
Valeriano explained the training involved "Our staff is required to go through training and to retrain every 2 years...training in the area of communication, social motor skills, sensory awareness..."
"There's a lot sensory bombardment that our kids endure when they go to a place like this. Whether it is the noise or the crowds or the waiting in line..." noted Turning,
The park has headphones that are quieting headphones that are available."
Plus, quiet rooms. A place to be able to step aside and get away from the stimulus in the park.
The park also has a pre-planning website .
"What it looks like to stand in line or what they're gonna have to do to order lunch...so the family can prepare the individual beforehand. That's important for our guys." said Turning,
And Turning sums it up this way, "My son is 14 now, he should be beyond sesame place, but he still loves it... because what he's really drawn to is the environment and the love and the acceptance and I'll never steer him away from that I'll come here when he's 50 because I see what joy it brings to him"
Learn more about Sesame Place click here