Community Issues

Kennywood Earns Certified Autism Center Designation

Recognized for special services and training to accommodate those with sensory needs

Amusement parks are an amazing kaleidoscope of exciting sights, sounds and experiences for most families. But for families with children on the autism spectrum or special sensory needs, the lights, crowds and noise can be a frightening overload. That forces many families to cross amusement parks off their list of places to visit.

The sights and sounds of an amusement park can be overwhelming for children with sensory needs.

The folks at Pittsburgh's Kennywood Park recognized that and have been working to make the amusement park more autism-friendly. Now the park has earned the Certified Autism Center designation , which is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that have completed the organization's training and review process.

"When we looked at ways to improve guest service over the offseason, becoming a Certified Autism Center was at the top of our to-do list," says park General Manager Jerome Gibas.

Kennywood wants to make sure every child can enjoy a day at the amusement park.

Kennywood staff have completed special training, and the park will be subject to an on-site visit by IBCCES, which is the industry leader in autism training and has created programs specifically for the hospitality industry. We want to ensure leaders in the industry, like Kennywood, are fully prepared to welcome guests with all needs," said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.

"We're excited about what this means for families." -- Myron Pincomb, IBCCES

Kennywood already has ride admission passes for children and adults with disabilities, which makes rides more accessible and allows those with autism to avoid long waits to ride. The park also offers "sensory bags" which include ear plugs, a fidget toy, squishy ball, and coloring books and crayons.

The park doesn't yet have an officially designated quiet space, but they're exploring the idea. In the meantime they've identified lower-traffic areas for families to visit when they need a break.

  • Click here for more information about Kennywood's services for guests on the autism spectrum.
  • Click here for a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center requirements.

(Images: Kennywood Facebook page )

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