Aquatica Orlando has become the first waterpark in the world to become a Certified Autism Center after undergoing a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training, as well as an onsite review of the park property and guest experience.
Aquatica Orlando worked in conjunction with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to complete the requirements to receive this designation. In addition, the staff at Aquatica will be continually trained to assist guests with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families, to help ensure a positive experience during their visit. Guests will also be provided with specific information about attractions and experiences along with in-park accommodations to help them plan their day and make informed choices best suited to their individual needs.
This information includes pre-visit planning resources that will be added to the park’s website such as a sensory guide developed by IBCCES. This sensory guide will make it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations by providing insight on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for each attraction. The park will also have a quiet room inside the park with adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.
“As the first water park in the world to complete the training and become a Certified Autism Center, Aquatica Orlando is proud to provide fun and memorable experiences through exceptional service,” said David Heaton, v.p. of Aquatica Orlando, in press materials. “We continually strive to create safe and meaningful experiences for all of our guests, and we are committed in our efforts to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”
For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been a leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel options, and in response, created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry. As a Certified Autism Center, Aquatica Orlando is required to provide ongoing training to ensure that team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with all families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum. Training takes place in the areas of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness as well as a comprehensive autism competency exam. The autism training must be taken every two years in order to maintain the certification.
“We know that training and certification is the best way for organizations to ensure they can accommodate all families,” explained Myron Pincomb, IBCCES board chairman, in press materials. “IBCCES is proud to work with Aquatica Orlando and other leaders in the industry to increase the availability of certified options and help individuals have a safe and enriching experience when traveling or visiting a new place.
Aquatica Orlando receiving its designation as a Certified Autism Center follows the accreditation of its sister park Sesame Place, which became the world’s first certified autism center theme park last April.