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Sesame Place San Diego first in county to open as Certified Autism Center

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 08, 2022

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — Sesame Place in Chula Vista has been open for nearly two weeks now and it's proving to truly be a place for everyone.

"It's really important for us to create an inclusive environment where everyone can come here," said Jim Lake, the park's president.

To make sure every kid can truly be a kid, Sesame Place San Diego is the first theme park in the county to open as a Certified Autism Center.

Each ride and attraction has a sensory guide to provide insight into how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected.

"It's important that we don't try to determine what those needs are and set up an environment where the family can make good decisions," Lake said.

Every employee is also trained on how to attend to children with autism and their families.

If a child does get overwhelmed, families can take a break in the park's quiet rooms.

"There are beanbag chairs. There are games to play. It's a place to kind of relax, regroup and then experience the park again," Lake said.

The accommodations may seem small to some people, but to families like Michelle McGowan's, it means the world.

Two of her three sons are on the autism spectrum. She plans to take all of them to the park next week.

"It melts my heart to think that this is now becoming something that is mainstream and that people are saying we want to include them," McGowan said.

Sesame Place San Diego also has a character named Julia who's autistic.

"It's important for us to have a character like that in this environment so that anyone can relate to them," Lake said.

Sesame Place San Diego's sister park in Philadelphia is also autism-certified.