Aquatica Orlando claims to have become the first water park in the world to become a certified autism centre.
The accreditation by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards follows sister park Sesame Place, which became the world’s first certified autism centre theme park last April.
Staff at the Seaworld-owned Aquatica site in Florida will be continually trained to assist guests with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.
Visitors will also be provided with specific information about attractions and experiences along with in-park accommodation to help them plan their day and make informed choices best suited to their individual needs.
Aquatica Orlando is required to provide ongoing training to ensure that 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 takes place in the areas of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, programme development, emotional awareness as well as a comprehensive autism competency exam.
Autism training must be taken every two years in order to maintain the certification.
Specific planning resources will be added to the park’s website including a sensory guide developed by IBCCES designed to make it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs.
The park will also have a quiet room with adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.
The certification comes as the park prepares for the opening of its newest attraction – KareKare Curl – this spring.
Vice president David Heaton said: “As the first water park in the world to complete the training and become a certified autism centre, Aquatica Orlando is proud to provide fun and memorable experiences through exceptional service.
“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.”
IBCCES chairman Myron Pincomb added: “We know that training and certification is the best way for organisations to ensure they can accommodate all families.
“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 travelling or visiting a new place.
“With the rise in diagnosis rates of cognitive disorders, there is a huge need for these options and for organisations to make a long-lasting commitment to their guests.”
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