Camp Onward is designed to help teens with Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism develop social skills. According to co-founder Nancy Hagan, “Camp Onward is a chance for teens that have social difficulties to get together, have fun, get outdoors, be around animals, and learn a lot of different life skills.”
A busy theme park can be an extremely stressful environment. Loud music, staff yelling over intercoms, bright flashing lights, long lines, constant murmur of crows, loud cheering at shows, and other stimuli can prove quite distressing, particularly to people with autism. Six Flags Great Adventure, a theme park located in Jackson, NJ, will be taking special measures to host its very own Autism Day on May 3, 2018. Great Adventure will be open only to guests with autism and their families. Season passes will not be accepted, and tickets for admission on Autism Day cost $32.99. Over 1,800 tickets had been sold by early April.
Special precautions on Autism Day will include dimming park lights, lowering music volume, instructing employees to speak quietly over the intercom on the boardwalk, and hiring autism interventionists to provide assistance at a moment’s notice. Autism Day will also feature presentations by high-profile professionals who specialize in spectrum disorders and vendors who serve the autistic community.
Autism Day is a result of a partnership between Six Flags and Kevin Gersh, founder of the Gersh Academy for Students on the Autism Spectrum. Gersh had the idea when he took the schoolkids to a day camp in the park. “It was never done before, and I felt it was important,” he said. “I really enjoy doing things for the autism community that have never been done before.”
According to park spokeswoman Kristin Fitzgerald in an email to a reporter, “We have hosted several events for guests with special needs. We have hosted Deaf Awareness Day for more than 20 years, and partnered with the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities to host the annual Developmental Disability Awareness Day. This is our first event dedicated to the autism community.”
Reuben Friedlander describes himself as “genius, attractive, and not particularly modest.” Reuben joined Different Brains in 2017. He enjoys video games, fantasy reading, hats, Dwarf Fortress, and writing silly humor. Reuben writes all kinds of articles for the website, while assisting with video editing and transcription.