JACKSON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — Aside from the usual roar of the roller coasters, Six Flags Great Adventure was a little more laid back than usual on Thursday.
“When you first come into the park, we noticed that a lot of the sound has been muffled down, whereas my daughter Emily would probably have put her hands over her ears,” says parent Kerry Stankevacius.
Emily is on the autism spectrum and on this day the park is only focused on Emily and her peers for Autism Day.
Great Adventure was only open to people with autism, their families and teachers.
Working with the Gersh Academy for Children on the Autism Spectrum, the park became more sensory friendly by dialing back some of the music and loud games.
“The most important thing is every family here is touched by autism so they’re all in the same boat. Nobody is staring at anyone. No one is looking differently,” says Kevin Gersh, founder of Gersh Academy.
Zach Mitchell from Pottstown was all about meeting the characters. While Brianna and Danielle King had a sisters day doing lots of rides.
While some children on the autism spectrum may enjoy seeking out stimulation like a roller coaster ride, others need a chance to quiet down.
So one thing that makes Autism Day unique at Six Flags is that there were decompression tents staged throughout the park and more than a hundred trained staff from Gersh Academy were ready to lend a hand.
“Six Flags has been so wonderful to cooperate with us to identify that and say ‘yes let’s do this for this community,” says Kevin Gersh, “I think it’s a model for the rest of the country.”