April 21, 2019
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. — Kennywood Park is making a commitment to ensure all visitors, even those with sensory needs or on the autism spectrum, have an amazing experience. As part of this commitment, the amusement park recently 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 a training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs.
“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. “Our mission at Kennywood is to provide the finest in family fun and entertainment, and ensuring we’re on the front lines in understanding and serving our guests who are on the autism spectrum is critical to achieving that mission.”
Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find new experiences and traveling to new destinations a challenge due to sensory needs, dietary restrictions and safety concerns. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children with special needs have limited travel options and created programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry.
“We want to ensure leaders in the industry, like Kennywood, are fully prepared to welcome guests with all needs. Ongoing training and certification ensure they are committed to serving these guests and have the knowledge and programs to do so,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “We’re excited about what this means for families in Pennsylvania and all over the US!”
In addition to training and certification, Kennywood will complete an onsite review by IBCCES and provide additional communication, resources, and adjustments for families with special needs. Currently, ride admission passes are available onsite for guests with disabilities, which will make rides more accessible. Sensory bags are also available for guests, which include ear plugs, a fidget toy, squishy ball, and coloring books and crayons. While an officially designated quiet space is not yet available within the park, Kennywood is identifying lower-traffic areas for families to visit when in need of a break from the normal activity of the amusement park. Families can visit www.Kennywood.com/Certified-Autism-Center for more information on Kennywood’s efforts to serve guests on the autism spectrum.
Rather than relying on the growing number of organizations promoting “autism-friendly” options that can vary widely, more parents are now seeking out destinations that have completed research-based training and professional review. IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, 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.