For some individuals on the autism spectrum, processing multi-sensory information is a daily struggle. Becoming overwhelmed by sight, sound, scent, touch, and taste can make what should be a fun and memorable family outing a challenge for all. And few venues are as stimulating as a theme park.
With that in mind, Custom Education Foundation, Gersh Academy, and their partners have teamed up to present the first-ever Autism Day at Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari on Thursday, May 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Jackson-based amusement park will be transformed into a sensory-friendly environment where those on the autism spectrum, their educators, friends, and families can enjoy the day together free of worry.
Jennifer Domash, vice president of communications for Custom Education Foundation, explained how the idea came to fruition.
“We are always looking to create new opportunities and experiences for individuals on the Autism Spectrum,” she said. “We had been hearing over the years from so many parents of children on the spectrum that they have tried unsuccessfully to spend a day at an amusement park. That their children really want to go and ride the rollercoasters, but the park was too much for them. So, we reached out to Six Flags Great Adventure. They were very excited about the opportunity to team up with an organization that knows the Autism community and create a day that has yet to be created.”
So, what changes will be made to accommodate those who’d prefer a more relaxed, comfortable atmosphere?
“We will transform the park into a sensory-friendly environment by turning down the lights and the music,” Domash noted. “The lines will be kept at a manageable level and if a child can’t wait on a line we hold their spot. We will rate all the rides by sensory level and thrill level to help attendees decide what ride is the best for them. There will be decompression areas set up with iPads, bean bag chairs, as well as Gersh Academy (our title sponsor who is an educational leader in autism) trained staff throughout the park. In addition, there will be well-known guest speakers during the day and vendors who are dedicated to providing services to the autism community.”
News of this special event has been met with appreciation and gratitude from families who look forward to sharing the day in this unique setting.
“The response from the autism community and the schools have been overwhelmingly positive,” Domash explained. “They are so grateful that we are creating a sensory-friendly environment where individuals on the spectrum, their family, friends, and educators can simply enjoy a day at the park. The stories have been pouring in on how they have wanted to go in the past but have been unable too. One mom told us a story of how her son had a meltdown in school last year and as a punishment, the school would not let her son go to Six Flags. She said she was mortified and her son heartbroken but now she said she can make it up to him. This is why we do what we do.”
Tickets are priced at $32.99 and can be purchased through this link.
“With everyone’s support, our hope is to make this an annual event,” Domash added.
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