“Sesame Street” has been a strong supporter of kids on the autism spectrum in the last few years. In 2015, through the “Sesame Street and Autism: see amazing in all children” initiative, they introduced Julia, a muppet on the autism spectrum, in a story book. Last spring, Julia made her TV debut as a regular cast member on the “Sesame Street” show.
Now, Sesame Place in Philadelphia will become the first theme park in the world designated as a “Certified Autism Center” (CAC) by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).
IBCCES provides training and credentials through their “Certified Autism Specialists, Board Certified Cognitive Specialists and Certified Autism Center.” A representative from IBCCES told The Mighty all their programs are research-based, and their boardincludes two professionals who are on the autism spectrum (Dr. Stephen Shore and Kerry Magro), as well as neurologists and psychologists — one of whom is also the parent of a child with Down syndrome — and other experts. “We work hard to ensure our programs are well rounded, evidence-based, practical and inclusive!” the rep said. The programs originated almost 18 years ago and are available in all 50 states and 42 different countries.
On April 2, “Sesame Street” announced in conjunction with IBCCESS, the completion of a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training at the theme park. Sesame Place is the first theme park in the world to receive such a distinction, according to a press release. The park is getting ready for its 38th season, opening on April 28, 2018.
According to “Sesame Street’s” release, Sesame Place will be required to provide ongoing training for team members “to ensure they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to interact with all families and children with disabilities, specifically on the autism spectrum. 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.”
To keep their certification, Sesame Place must take the autism training every two years.
“As the first theme park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC, Sesame Place is better equipped to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” said Sesame Place park president Cathy Valeriano in their official release.
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