Five locations within the City of Tempe have worked together to collectively earn the designation as a Certified Autism Center™. The participating locations include Tempe Public Library, Kiwanis Park, Kiwanis Recreation Center, Tempe History Museum, Edna Vihel Arts Center and Tempe Town Lake. The Certified Autism Center™(CAC) designation is granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that complete a training and certification process to better understand and serve autistic individuals and others with sensory needs.
Each location offers a myriad of services and supports to residents and visitors with autism or sensory needs, including inclusive play equipment, stimulating artwork and places to calm and soothe. The city is also home to Buddy Bowling, Camp Challenge, Special Olympics, LEAP After-School Program, and more.
“This autism certification is an important first step towards becoming a city that is fully inclusive and welcoming to individuals of all abilities,” said City of Tempe Mayor Corey Woods. “We are very proud of the work we’ve done, and we look forward to the day when every city facility is certified and fully equipped to serve all.”
As part of the CAC designation process, at least 80% of public-facing department staff must complete a training and certification program to better understand the autism spectrum and strategies for communication, visitor experience, and safety. IBCCES also performed an onsite review of key facilities to provide additional supports, recommendations, and tools such as sensory guides to enhance inclusion and accessibility. The certification must be renewed every 2 years, which includes updated training for staff and also demonstrates a long-term commitment to growth and inclusion.
“The teams at Tempe Public Library, Kiwanis Park, Tempe History Museum, Edna Vihel Arts Center and Tempe Town Lake are truly dedicated to ensuring all visitors and residents have options – they are leading the way in their industry, and we are truly excited to work with them on these programs,” IBCCES Board Chairman Myron Pincomb said.
IBCCES designed the CAC training and certification program in response to the need for more recreational and travel options where families and autistic individuals feel welcomed and understood. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based training from experts as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews and customized recommendations. The certification also has renewal requirements to ensure the program is a long-term commitment that has a lasting impact.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center (CAC) requirements.