Saturday, May 26, 2018
Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Place? A Few Tips for Eating with Kiddos on the Spectrum
***This is not a sponsored post. This blog has been written based on my own personal experience at Sesame Place.
Yesterday we had a day off of school and with an awesome member perk, I could take my kids to Sesame for pennies compared to regular pricing. With beautiful skies and warm temperatures, I decided it would be the perfect day to visit "Elmo's House" as my sweet Seraphina has dubbed the theme park. You may recall that I chose to join Sesame Place because of their new endorsement as the first certified autism center. Our visit preseason was one that I won't soon forget and the employee that took the time to truly be present with my girl has made me a huge supporter of the "Place". If you want to read about our first encounter with Sesame Place with a kiddo on the spectrum, you can read that post here.
I know for me, Seraphina does not like crowds, waiting or loud noises so eating "off peak" was imperative. Since it was early season, the staffing is still on an upswing meaning that there could be a longer wait for food, so before noon, I gathered my brood and we headed to Elmo's Eatery and I was set on getting my little gal gluten free pizza while the other four noshed on creamy macaroni and cheese and steamy fries. I did not contact the park in advance to talk about Seraphina's needs but know that it would be a great idea to do so in the future. If you have a kiddo (or adult) with dietary restrictions, feel free to contact Sesame Place a few business days before your visit so they can work with you to provide the best situation for your party.
Unfortunately due to the early days in the season, the park did not have gluten free pizza available. Fearing a melt down, I quickly explained my issue to the cashier, Leah and she ran to grab the dining options. Lucky for me, my sweet girl LOVES spinach and strawberries so Leah worked to create a personalized meal for Seraphina. She even included it in the "kids meal" so like her sibling she could drink water out of a keepsake cup and take a keepsake plate home to remember her visit this day. I was in awe of Leah's ability to take action and choose to make this not so pleasant situation into a win.
That being said here are three tips for a parent eating with a kiddo with dietary needs.
First, contact the park. Sometimes I hesitate not wanting to be a bother but in the instant that I was told no gluten free pizza, I was afraid that was the end of our visit that day. With only having done a few rides, I feared the older kiddos would be disappointed in ending the day so soon and truthfully, they are more than willing to work with you to meet your needs. I am constantly shocked at how accommodating the park is and although I am open about sharing my daughter's diagnosis I am certain if you wanted to keep that information private the employees you work with will do their best to keep your information secure. If you require assistance, you can reach out to Sesame Place at AllergenfriendlySPL@sesameplace.com.
Second, pack snacks. Though the dining options are available for kiddos with eating limitations and special needs, they are willing to let you bring snacks into the park. They do note there are no picnics allowed in the park but on our first visit, I brought some fruit and a few gluten free goodies for my sweet girl to eat. This helped to keep her calm in moments of desperation and I was able to give her the breaks she needed and keep her blood sugar on par allowing us to have a great experience (I won't forget that again).
Third, make a plan to dine. If I had to do it over again (I was the only adult in my party), I would try to limit the child's wait time in the dining areas. Should you visit with more than one adult, I would send them into the restaurant about 20 minutes before you were ready to eat. Allow them to order and take that special kiddo on an extra ride or two. Even with choosing to eat "off peak" we had a fifteen minute wait to order our meals. During that time we had a few "mini melt downs" and I felt all eyes on me as I tried to hold, comfort and apply deep pressure to my sensory seeking kiddo. If you can limit their time in line, I think you might find more success or less struggle than I did.
Once again ONE employee made it a point to make our visit to Sesame Place one that was met with care and compassion. The kindness extended to me by Leah was exemplary and though there are still areas of growth Sesame is truly working to create an environment where everyone is expected and all their needs are met.
Thank you again Sesame for allowing us to make memories and keep the limitations of having a kiddo with extra needs one that is minimized so all kiddos are just that children who are loved and celebrated for who they are.
**Stay tuned for some tips on taking your children to visit Sesame and explore the water park. This for me was a little more challenging but next time I will have everything I need to make it a greater success.
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