The Reading Public Museum was recently designated a Certified Autism Center, which is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) and demonstrates a commitment to an ongoing training and certification process in order to better serve individuals on the autism spectrum.
Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find choosing destinations and attractions to visit a challenge due to sensory sensitivities and safety concerns. The Reading Public Museum (RPM) is the first destination to become a Certified Autism Center (CAC) in Berks County and the first museum certified in Pennsylvania. This means that visitors and families with children who have autism and other sensory disorders can enjoy the best possible experience close to home.
“The John Paul II Center is very excited to be part of the Reading Public Museum’s mission in becoming designated as a Certified Autism Center. As a school for individuals with special needs, we sometimes find it difficult to find accommodating programs outside of the classroom. The Museum has always been a special place for our students and adults and a certification of this caliber means that our many individuals, groups, programs, and families will be able to take full advantage of everything the museum has to offer. By proactively seeking this certification and offering these special services, RPM has proven they are a pioneer and an advocate for our local families,” stated René Berkhammer, a Special Education Teacher and Transition Coordinator at the John Paul II Center for Special Learning.
For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry 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 options when looking for attractions and new experiences that can also understand and respond to some of their needs. In response, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for organizations such as resorts, museums, zoos, and more in the travel and hospitality industry.
The Reading Public Museum offers special sensory hours from 9 – 11 a.m. the first Monday and following Sunday of the month unless otherwise noted. Each family also receives a pre-visit packet with information to share with their child. The Museum will also make special accommodations for families if requested in advance.
“We are proud to become a Certified Autism Center for families to visit and feel comfortable, learn, and have fun here at The Museum,” stated Wendy Koller, Manager of Education at The Museum.
“Our goal is to train and certify as many destinations as possible to ensure not only that there are more options for ALL families, but also to provide knowledge and evidence-based training to those organizations that are committed to serving guests with special needs and who are going above and beyond to make sure everyone has the best possible experience,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “We’re proud to work with premier organizations around the globe and are so excited to add Reading Public Museum to our list of Certified Autism Centers.”
While many destinations tout “autism-friendly” options, this does not necessarily indicate a true understanding of families’ requirements. More parents with children who have autism are seeking out destinations that have completed research-based training and professional review to give them peace of mind when visiting these organizations.