Experience Florida’s Sports Coast (EFSC) destination marketing organization has earned the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC), a designation granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that have completed autism-specific training and certification to better understand and welcome autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors and their families. EFSC’s CAC certification is the first step in the organization’s initiative to help the Sports Coast area, which includes New Port Richey, Dade City, Wesley Chapel, and Zephyrhills communities, achieve the designation of Certified Autism Destination™ (CAD) to attract new visitors to the area and expand accessibility offerings.
“Our goal as a destination is to provide the best service and experiences possible to visitors of all abilities,” said Florida’s Sports Coast Tourism Director, Adam Thomas. “To achieve that goal, we do our part to educate ourselves on the various needs of our visitors. We are delighted for Florida’s Sports Coast to now be a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC), having completed autism-specific training so that we can better implement practices to assist autistic individuals who visit and live in Pasco County. Next, we look forward to becoming a Certified Autism Destination™ (CAD) in 2024 and working with area partners and attractions to support them in taking this important step toward certification with us.”
Many autistic individuals and their families want to travel but may worry they will not be understood, welcomed, or have access to accommodations at many hotels, attractions, and other points of interest. Through the community designation of the Certified Autism Destination™ (CAD), various area attractions, hotels, recreation, and entertainment venues complete autism and sensory training and certification, as well as onsite reviews, and have long-term access to other supports through IBCCES. This process and designation ensures concrete steps are in place to enhance the visitor experience and welcome new autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors who can feel safe and enjoy a more welcoming environment. With 1 in 6 people having a sensory need or sensitivity and 1 in 36 children diagnosed with autism in the United States, the demand for more trained and certified options is at an all-time high.
“With the recent diagnosis rate updates from the CDC, the need has never been greater for a better understanding of what these travelers want and how to serve ALL visitors in the best way possible,” shared Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “We’re excited to work with Experience Florida’s Sports Coast as the team enhances its focus on accessibility and ensures that more travelers can create lasting memories together with the help of our certification programs and long-term support options.”
EFSC is currently working to engage additional local partners in the leisure and entertainment space to help make sure there is a variety of autism-certified options in the areas of lodging, recreation, and entertainment as the CAD initiative moves forward.
For over 20 years, IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals worldwide. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based training as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews and customized recommendations, and renewal requirements to ensure the program is a long-term commitment that has a lasting impact.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, as a free online resource for parents that lists certified locations and professionals. Each organization listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.
About Experience Florida’s Sports Coast
At the northern edge of Tampa Bay, Florida’s Sports Coast is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Just 30 minutes north of Tampa airport, the area boasts over 24 miles of coastline to the west, hilly terrain to the east and more than 100,000 acres of pristine wilderness to explore in between. In Pasco, visitors are invited to step back in time and enjoy a slice of Florida the way it used to be! Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway or a week-long retreat, Florida’s Sports Coast is a great place to relax and unwind. With an average annual temperature of 72 degrees, plenty of indoor and outdoor adventures, family-friendly events and sports tournaments year-round, Pasco County has something for everyone!
Committed to providing The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.
Learn More About Becoming A Certified Autism Center™
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