PA Office of Developmental Programs Newsletter
The mission of the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) is to support Pennsylvanians with developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence, choice and opportunity in their lives. The office seeks to continuously improve an effective system of accessible services and supports that are flexible, innovative and person-centered.
Santa Visiting Children With Special Needs At Montgomery Mall
Santa Claus has announced a special visit to the Montgomery Mall, organized by Autism Speaks.
The event is exclusively for children with special needs and their families.
It will take place on Dec. 1 at the Elevator Court from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
The event, known as "Caring Santa," takes steps to ensure a calm and comfortable environment for the children.
Sensory Packs Available at Elmwood Park Zoo
Elmwood Park Zoo, the first zoo in the nation to be named a Certified Autism Center, is yet another step closer to achieving its multi-tiered, multi-year, half-million dollar-facility transformation into an all-inclusive, special needs facility; with its most recent accomplishment making things just a little easier for guests with sensory sensitivities or challenges.
Zoo guests will now have access to complimentary daily-use “Sensory Packs:” autism support bags incorporating noise cancelling headphones, fidget toys, thinking putty and laminated copies of EPZ’s Social Story, sensory map, and sensory guide. The packs are expected to be available for guests by the end of September.
You can learn more about this new initiative by clicking HERE.
Relaxed Performances at Montgomery Theater
Relaxed Performances are specially adjusted to be sensory-friendly, comfortable for but not limited to individuals on the autism spectrum. To be inclusive of children and families with a wide range of sensory, learning, and communication differences, we designed the theater experience to be welcoming and judgment-free. Many children and adults benefit from experiencing theater in this relaxed environment.
Some aspects of this program include:
- Online pre-visit materials that show patrons what they can expect to see and hear at Montgomery Theater
- Training for ushers, volunteers, and musicians to help staff cultivate an especially inclusive environment
- Relaxed rules in the theater so that all responses to the show—clapping, singing, vocalizing, moving, dancing, etc.—are welcome at any time
- Partially up house lights
- Fidgets and earplugs
- A designated quiet space with relaxing activities for patrons who would like to take a break from the performance.
- Slight mitigation of sudden, loud sounds and events
- A modified refund policy that allows families to receive 100% of their money back if they purchase tickets and find they are unable to attend the day of the performance
Click HERE for more information.