50 “Accessible Hacks” to Make Travel More Enjoyable for People with a Disability.

Today we are sharing a wonderful blog from the founder of TravelAbility Summit, Jake Steinman.

“TravelAbility Summit, the inaugural gathering of industry professionals dedicated to improving travel experiences for people with disabilities that will be held in San Francisco November 11-13th, is releasing the names of 50 technologies, products, and services that will help the travel industry level-up their accessibility. The 50 final products make travel easier for all and were based on the feedback of people with disabilities, technical experts and disability industry leaders.

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Sesame Place + Inclusion: A First-Hand Perspective

Sesame Place was the first theme park in the world to become a Certified Autism Center™(CAC), as designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES.) Sesame Place has continued to champion inclusiveness for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and others with special needs. Sesame Place’s goal is to create an environment that welcomes all visitors, and the CAC training and certification process was the first step. Dr. Kerry Magro, autism advocate, best-selling author and professional speaker, shares his thoughts and experiences at Sesame Place:

“By Sesame Place becoming a Certified Autism Center™ and also really being a pioneer for our community, it’s doing incredible, incredible things for our autism community – and helping engage our community to get out there and explore the world around them,” says Dr. Magro.

Sesame Place – Kerry Magro from IBCCES on Vimeo.

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Scuba Diving and Autism Part 3: Reduce Danger and Learn New Skills

Learning Water Skills Can Help Reduce the Danger of Water

It is widely known that drowning is a major concern for children with autism, which sometimes leads parents to avoid water altogether.

Also, if individuals on the spectrum have not developed a level of comfort or the proper skillset to know what to do when confronted with water, this could lead to sensory overload when those encounters occur. Signs of sensory overload can vary for each individual, but typically there are ways to recognize these signs and reduce or prevent sensory overload or “meltdowns”.

It is usually easier for a parent or someone other than the person with autism to recognize these signs and to act on them before it is too late. While children can and should be trained themselves on how to try and recognize these signs and take steps for prevention of sensory overload, this is usually a lifelong process of continual refinement (and hopefully improvement).

This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to have children with autism have experiences in water with trained professionals. If they can develop a comfort level and get practice in the water under proper supervision, then being around water will be that much safer for them in other areas of life.

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Courtyard Phoenix Mesa Receives Certified Autism Center Designation

Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find choosing travel and vacation options a challenge due to sensory needs, dietary restrictions and safety concerns. To address this need, Courtyard Phoenix Mesa has earned the designation of Certified Autism Center (CAC), awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). The certification means that the hotel is committed to serving guests with autism and sensory needs and have completed training to ensure guests can enjoy the best possible experience.

The Courtyard Phoenix Mesa also joins a growing number of organizations that are becoming certified in Arizona, a movement inspired by the work of the Visit Mesa organization and that community’s goal to become the most autism inclusive in the world. Continue Reading →

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Scuba Diving and Autism Part 2: How Autism Certification Helps

Children with autism are often drawn to water, but without proper training, water can also be a real danger to them. PADI instructors partnering with IBCCES can be an important part of helping these children remain safe and become more comfortable around water.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism. Much of this is preventable by teaching children who are naturally drawn to water better skills for how to swim and manage themselves when they are in the water.

Many families want to help their child develop new skills and abilities, but they have a hard time finding places to do it.

How Autism Certification Can Make a Difference

“Often the road block isn’t the children, it’s finding programs, instructors, and businesses that are willing to adapt their ‘normal’ operations to accommodate and meet the needs for special needs children.” -Chris O’Shea, parent of a child on the autism spectrum (see Chris O’Shea’s original blog post). Continue Reading →

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Scuba Diving and Autism Part 1: Autism and Affinity for Water

Why are People with Autism Drawn to Water?

While no studies have been done on why people with autism tend to be drawn to water more often than other individuals, there is substantial anecdotal evidence of the fascination with water among the autism community.

Here are a few quotes from various online forums compiled in a BBC blog talking about people with autism being drawn to water:

“I am kind of obsessed with flowing water. Nifty water features and mountain streams are like an on switch for happy. I can stare at them for ages. Even better if I can get down to the water and wade in it, play in it, float things in it, splash in it. Mountain streams are the best though – the water is always cold and clear. Fountains can be good, but they are often warm, which isn’t nearly as good.” Continue Reading →

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Mesa Parks: A Leader in Inclusivity, Autism and Innovation

Mesa, Arizona is booming with activity and a caring community of over half a million, the 37th largest city in the country. With almost 160 square miles, it is the perfect place to visit on a family vacation or even to consider calling home if looking for a change of scenery.

Mesa Parks has been at the forefront of the inclusive culture surrounding autism and cognitive disorders in Mesa, Arizona. Continue Reading →

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Mesa Parks and Recreation Becomes First Such Organization to Receive Certified Autism Center Designation

The Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department has become the first parks and recreation organization in the U.S. and the world to become a Certified Autism Center, a designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) that demonstrates the organization’s commitment to ensuring guests with autism and sensory sensitivities have the best possible experience.

“Mesa is well known as a destination for families to both live and visit,” Mayor John Giles said. “I am proud that our Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Department took that priority a step further to ensure that children on the autism spectrum have a fun experience in Mesa.”

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Top 8 Travel Options That Include Water For Families With Autism

Water is a very powerful and healing tool for people who are on the autism spectrum. It can be extremely therapeutic and also provides behavioral benefits along with the physical benefits of being active in the water.

Being in the water often gives a sense of calm to individuals on the spectrum, especially children. The buoyancy and pressure of the water creates a supportive environment where they are able to develop their sensory processing skills through hydrostatic pressure, vestibular stimulation and proprioceptive feedback.

On top of this, when children are able to play and have fun in the water the positive effects are seen long after. Continue Reading →

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Why Autism Friendly Should Never be Mistaken for Autism Certified

Autism friendly can just mean that an organization has made a donation to a local non-profit; a Certified Autism Center means that at least 80% of guest facing staff has received autism training as just one of the requirements.

In 2018, the CDC reported that 1 in every 59 children are diagnosed with autism. Despite this disability reaching far and wide, it’s extremely unique to each individual due to operating on a spectrum.

This can make traveling of any kind very difficult for families who have children with autism. Continue Reading →

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