As seen on CNN: Theme parks, other family destinations accommodate families with autism

[excerpt from CNN.com]

A vacation to an amusement park can be a daunting venture for any family, but for a family of a child with special needs, that trip may seem like an impossible dream.

You’re always on edge,” said Jerry Turning of Tinton Falls, New Jersey. “There’s a lot of sensory bombardment that our kids endure when they go to a place like this. Whether its the noise or the crowds or waiting in line, it’s always challenging.” Turning’s son, Eric, has autism. […]

At Sesame Place, his son feels understood and accepted. Although he may fidget in line or make funny noises, he faces no judgment from park staff or fellow visitors.

For Turning, the “cherry on top” is the new designation as a Certified Autism Center, which makes Sesame Place the first theme park in the world to receive that distinction from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. To earn the certification, the board requires at least 80% of a park’s staff to complete rigorous training on autism sensitivity and awareness. […]

And it’s not just theme parks recognizing the need for expanded accessibility for individuals with cognitive disorders; resorts are also getting in on the game.

Beaches Resorts, which also partners with Sesame Workshop to offer shows and activities, is the first resort company to be credentialed by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. According to Liz Kaiser, Beaches’ partnership marketing director, all staff members at every level have been trained in autism sensitivity and awareness. The resorts also provide a variety of customized services for families, including culinary concierge services to aid with dietary issues, a one-on-one aide, “quiet check-in,” and private transfers.

The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards has also credentialed Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites Resort & Spa in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, as well as the Sheraton Park Anaheim near Disneyland. The Georgia Aquarium is also an Autism Center, and Space Center Houston was designated as such last month.

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