The sights and sounds of a theme park can result in fun and happiness for park visitors accompanied by children.
But many young theme park visitors can suffer from emotional overload on the best of days and this risk is magnified for children diagnosed with autism.
That’s why Legoland Florida recently announced changes designed to embrace autistic park goers.
David Brady, a Legoland spokesman who also has an autistic son, knows firsthand how something innocent can set a child off.
“Terror of the dark, of the unknown, of anything that’s perceived as kind of scary and frightening. Things that you and I would just absolutely take for granted in a theme park,” he told FOX 13 in Tampa Bay. "Sometimes they throw themselves on the ground.”
To help things go smoothly, the park is offering “hero passes” so that families dealing with autism don’t have to wait in long lines. The park is also offering “storyboards” of each attraction so that parents are more prepared for what to expect.
“It allows them to understand if there might be water elements or strobe lights. Things that might actually trigger an autism fit,” said Autum Bassham, a guest services employee at Legoland.
If the day of fun starts does get bumpy, families can always take a little break in one of the quiet rooms. They serve as a sanctuary from all the noise, and come equipped with noise-cancelling headphones, special toys, and blankets designed with autistic children in mind.
"Instead of going all the way back to your hotel room or all the way back to your car to leave the park, you now have a safe, quiet place in the park where you can take a break," continued Brady.
In addition, the park announced in a press release that all new employees will receive specialized training to assist guests with Autism Spectrum Disorder
The changes come just in time for National Autism Awareness Month, and Legoland will donate a percentage of its sales to the group Autism Speaks. According to the CDC, 1 in every 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Changes like these can go a long way to ensure everyone is smiling. Watch the video to see the autism-friendly changes.