Sesame Place recently announced that it completed Blue Bridge Autism Training for First Responders for all full-time and security staff. This training offers a comprehensive presentation on how autistic behaviors are directly affected by sensory and communication challenges, giving Ambassadors further insight and tools for emotional de-escalation and improved communication.
Blue Bridge, LLC was created by retired police Captain Gerald Turning Jr., who spent 25 years in law enforcement before his retirement in 2020. He has since trained personnel from over 150 law enforcement, EMS, fire, paramedic and search-and-rescue agencies in 34 states, Canada and the U.K. Turning has a teenage son, Eric, who was diagnosed with autism as a child in 2007 and frequents Sesame Place as a season pass member.
“Sesame Place is one of the world’s warmest, safest and most accommodating theme parks, and we are making it better,” said Turning. “Sesame Place staff is receiving training on par with the most progressive, forward-thinking law enforcement and emergency response organizations in the world. I don’t have the words to express how much this means to special needs families. I couldn’t be prouder to work with Sesame Place.”
Sesame Place provides a number of resources for autistic guests and guests with sensory processing issues. Those in need of quiet time and relief from sensory stimulation can utilize the park’s code-activated quiet room, which features comfortable seating and lowered lighting, and noise-canceling headphones provided for single-day use. The park also added a family restroom with an adult changing table, a designated space for low-sensory parade viewing and limited character interactions at the Dine with Elmo & Friends experience.
In 2018, Sesame Place became the first theme park in the world to become a Certified Autism Center as designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continued Education Standards. In 2022, the park completed its first staff-wide recertification. As a CAC, Sesame Place offers services and facilities for autistic and sensory-sensitive guests and ongoing training for Ambassadors is required to ensure they have the knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to cater to guests of all abilities.
Sesame Place offers an IBCCES Accessibility Card, which is intended to help individuals requesting special accommodations participate in the park’s Ride Accessibility Program, and the Special Access Pass, an accommodation that gives priority boarding on select attractions to guests who are unable to stand in line because of their physical or cognitive need.
In its partnership with IBCCES, Sesame Place’s attractions, shows, parades and restaurants were audited on a sensory scale to create a branded Sensory Guide, which is available online and at Guest Relations and the Welcome Center at the park.
Visit sesameplace.com/philadelphia/help/autism-resources/ for more information.