Today, several companies are responsible for providing better service to people with autism, adapting the conditions to create an environment conducive to the tranquility and well-being of children and adults with special needs. These good practices have extended to various areas of society.
In addition, these companies train their employees to face the challenge of including a series of activities in their work in which they must relate to people with ASD.
Discovery Cove: personalized attention for visitors with autism
Discovery Cove is an amusement park, owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, located in Orlando, Florida, that has a splendid resort and a variety of attractions such as a dolphin pool, a tropical river, and a saltwater pool. Children with autism can interact (talk, play, touch, and swim) with some aquatic animals such as dolphins.
There are also coral reefs where they can swim with tropical fish and a free-flight aviary with over 250 tropical birds. This oasis in the middle of the city was rated as a Certified Autism Center by the Autism Certified Center International Accreditation Board for Continuing Education (IBCCES).
One of the most significant initiatives and good practice to obtain the certificate was the training of employees to obtain greater knowledge about the spectrum as well as integrating the families of these people.
This certification constitutes a true commitment from the water park to keep the preparation and training of personnel up to date in terms of experience, skills, tolerance, and temperament to interact with people with autism and their families.
With the training participation of this center, the Discovery Cove staff intends to communicate how to deal with people on the spectrum to help them and their families enjoy a healthy recreation.
The main objective is to generate the conditions so that their stay and experience within the facilities is the most suitable and as favorable as possible. The park has made a great effort to provide activity plans that allow the inclusion of family members of children with autism and other special needs.
Discovery Cove is distinguished by being the first resort and park for close interaction with animals endorsed by the IBCCES. It is not the first time that a SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment company has received this kind of distinction, as in previous years Sesame Place and Aquatica Orlando had received a similar certificate so this would be the third park with this certification.
As announced by Kyle Miller (2019), president of Discovery Cove in a statement:
“Autism certification is a natural step for us as we continue to create meaningful and safe experience for our visitors.”
By acquiring this certificate, the park seeks to create a more relaxed environment that decreases the sensory recharge of visitors who have autism.
The IBCCES has been a pioneer for almost 20 years in training in the topic of good practices for ASD aimed at health professionals and educators around the world. This organization recognized that many families with children within the spectrum have some limitations in many activities related to travel and lodging.
Visitors on the autism spectrum receive up-to-date information on the different experiences and attractions of the park, as well as accommodation to help plan their stay at the hotel and take advantage of the benefits that suit their individual needs.
“For a long time, Discovery Cove has been recognized for its adventurous and relaxed atmosphere, for its spaces that make our services more accessible,” Miller added.
There are many additional services available to its visitors such as an area equipped with adjustable lights, food and beverage services, comfortable armchairs for rest and a web page with updated information and tools to plan visits on the site.
“Prior planning for the autistic community is very important,” said Myron Pincomb, director of the board of directors of IBCCES.
A waiting room for people with autism
Another novel initiative for the autism community is a place inside the Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania, dedicated exclusively to those who have this type of sensory disorder. The airport has a special waiting room that looks like the inside of an airplane.
The waiting room is a thematic version of an airplane; that is to say, it corresponds to a replica of the interior of an airplane. This ingenious creation has a purpose in that both children and adults with autism can familiarize themselves with the airplanes before boarding the flight.
The stage is complemented by videos that project some moving images and soft music that promote relaxation.
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