ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - Aquatica Orlando, in conjunction with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), announced on Tuesday that they are the first water park in the world to become a certified autism center.
They say that their staff has completed autism sensitivity and awareness training, as well as an onsite review of the park property and guest experience. This completion designates Aquatica Orlando as a Certified Autism Center (CAC), as distinguished by IBCCES.
Aquatica Orlando's sister park, Sesame Place, became the world's first autism center theme park in April 2018.
With close assistance from IBCCES, Aquatica says that their staff will be continually trained to assist guests with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. This will ensure a positive guest experience.
Guests will also be given specific information about attractions and experiences, along with in-park accommodations to help them plan their day and make informed decisions.
As a CAC, Aquatica is now required to provide ongoing training to ensure that their staff have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with all families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum.
Training dives into sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness as well as a comprehensive autism competency exam.
Autism training must be taken every two years in order to maintain the certification.
"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, Vice President of Aquatica Orlando. "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 the convenience of parents, pre-visit planning resources will be added to the park's website, including a sensory guide developed by IBCCES.
Aquatica Orlando will also have a quiet room inside the park with adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.
"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. "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. With the rise in diagnosis rates of cognitive disorders, there is a huge need for these options and for organizations to make a long-lasting commitment to their guests."
This certification comes as the park readies for the opening of its newest attraction- Kare Kare Curl - this spring.