Swim Angelfish is now a Certified Autism Center™

Swim Angelfish, an adaptive swim program that began in Connecticut, was recently awarded the Certified Autism Center designation by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find selecting extracurricular activities a challenge due to sensory needs and safety concerns. By completing the training necessary to earn the Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation, Swim Angelfish has gone above and beyond their already established programming geared toward these individuals to equip themselves with even more knowledge and best practices to ensure children with autism and other sensory disorders will enjoy the best possible experience that caters to their needs. Continue Reading →

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Four Points by Sheraton Mesa Receives Certified Autism Center™ Designation

Four Points by Sheraton at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport is looking toward a future of inclusivity. Its staff recently completed  a professional training and certification program through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), designating the space as a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC). Choosing travel options can be a challenge for individuals and families who have sensory needs or are on the autism spectrum. The CAC designation means that all guests can enjoy the best possible experience that caters to their needs.

Four Points by Sheraton at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport also joins a growing number of organizations 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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First Dive Shop in Asia to Earn the Certified Autism Center™ Designation

Marshall Scuba Swim and Safety has become the first dive shop in Asia to earn the designation of Certified Autism Center™ (CAC). The CAC designation, granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), means that visitors and families with children who are on the autism spectrum can enjoy the best possible experience that caters to their needs when they’re learning to dive.

Marshall Scuba Swim and Safety is in Malaysia, only ten minutes from the border with Singapore. Achieving this designation complements the long-standing efforts of Marshall’s owner and main instructor, Kenneth Tuttle. Kenneth has taught swimming for over three decades. Marshall Scuba and Swim Safety offers all levels of scuba instruction, along with instructor training to work with students on the autism spectrum as well as those with other cognitive and physical disabilities.

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House of Refuge Becomes Certified Autism Center

House of Refuge is joining the Mesa Autism Initiative, connecting to an expanding network of organizations that have earned the Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).  A faith-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, House of Refuge has been helping families experiencing homelessness in the East Valley for over 20 years by providing transitional housing and wrap-around support services. These services, coupled with the stability provided by housing, provide families with the foundation and resources needed to achieve self-sufficiency and obtain permanent housing.

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What it Means to be “Bad” – The Challenge of Special Needs and Criminal Arrest

By Carol S. Weinman, Esq., C.A.S., International Speaker and Author

“My son really is a good boy. And, now, he thinks he’s bad.” These were the words of a mom who recently witnessed her adult son – with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – in handcuffs.  It got me thinking even more about the unspoken fallout of an ASD individual’s encounter with police. Boys with ASD experience “hits” to their self esteem at a very early age. They feel different, sometimes odd, and often ostracized and misunderstood. Highly vulnerable from a young age, they are more susceptible to the after effects of being arrested, handcuffed or fingerprinted. They transition to adulthood with a compromised sense of self-esteem and self-concept. The impact of being arrested and handcuffed cannot be minimized. It is traumatic for anyone at any age, but for an individual with ASD, it can be even more devastating.

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How Childhood Jobs Prepared me for Success as an Adult with Autism

By Anita Lesko, BSN, RN, MS, CRNA

I have the good fortune to be a friend of Dr. Temple Grandin. We have a lot in common. We are both autistic, and we share a very similar youth that played a big factor in our adult life. We both started having jobs at a very early age. Temple often talks about her early days, when her job was to greet guests at the door for her mom’s dinner party, and take their coats to hang up. Yes, it was a job. She was given a responsibility to carry out.

Among her numerous other childhood jobs was the one I, too, did for many years — mucking out horse stalls. In conversations with Temple on the phone, we’ve talked about those days of our teenage years spent shoveling out one stall after another. We both love horses and being around them. It was peaceful and it was also a form of therapy. In essence, it was our occupational therapy.

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Tips for Overcoming Challenges with Special Needs Hair Care

“Brush Up” with These Helpful Tips

By Elayne Pearson, C.A.S., Special-needs Preparedness Specialist, is an award-winning writer, poet, presenter, advocate, author, and actress.

In the late 1980s, individuals with disabilities were coming into the bright spotlight of media and society, and my husband, Rod, and I vowed we would never keep Heidi (our sweet little daughter with Down syndrome) “shielded” at home like families frequently did in the past. Her sisters were proud of her, too, despite frequent rude stares from others. One thing I always did to bolster our confidence before going out with my little chickadees was make sure their faces were clean and hair was brushed, with a bow, barrette, or headband added including little Heidi. Her munchkin-angel face looked even cuter with curls, ribbons, and bows.

Fast forward a few years. Heidi’s late-onset autism (unbeknownst to us) created an extreme sensitivity with anything around her face, such as lip balm, sunscreen, eyeglasses, and all hair accessories. First, her annoyance was baffling, then frustrating, then down-right aggravating. Heidi detested anything in her hair, and seemed oblivious to pain when she pulled out a barrette, curler, flower, elastic, or ribbon. It drove me crazy.

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Autism Training in Law Enforcement and the Call to Action

By Carol S. Weinman, Esq., C.A.S., National Speaker and Author

The willing desire to work together in unraveling the puzzle of autism is growing among law enforcement. The number of calls I receive to present on the topic of autism and police training increases every day. The reason: law enforcement officers want to better understand the complex mindset of those with autism spectrum disorder and more importantly, learn how to interact with them.

Hardly a month goes by anymore when the media isn’t reporting about someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who is arrested or has an unfortunate police encounter. That’s because what appears to be suspicious or criminal activity is behavior characteristic of an individual with ASD. So, how can a police officer know the difference? Well, the first step in prevention of these traumatic incidents among police officers and the ASD community is education.

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Leveraging Visual Support for Neuro-divergent Children

Creative Ideas To Offer Better Visual Support For Neuro-Diverse Children

By Guest Contributor Evan Brown

Leveraging visual support for neuro-divergent children entail using a visual item, such as a picture card or mood boards, to communicate with a child who exhibits a shortcoming in using or has difficulty understanding language. Visual supports can be in the form of lists, written words, objects, drawings and photographs. Ample research stands as evidence that visual supports provide one of the best communication mediums for children with developmental disorders. When employed for children on the autism spectrum, a visual support serves two main purposes: helping the child communicate with those around them, and aiding parents in communicating better with their child.

temple grandin

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Special Needs and Transitioning into Adulthood

By Elayne Pearson, C.A.S., Special-needs Preparedness Specialist, is an award-winning writer, poet, presenter, advocate, author, and actress.

It’s May, and some nice graduation announcements have arrived at the house. While I’m happy for each student, it occasionally picks at an old wound from Heidi’s high school graduation (or the lack there of). I ponder if I did the right thing by not having our painfully shy teenager participate in the formal commencement exercises like her Special Needs Educators had encouraged.

It’s hard to know whose advice to listen to.…

Back when Heidi was in preschool, Kim Peek, the autistic savant who inspired the Oscar-winning movie, Rainman, was traveling around the country sharing autism awareness. Kim was a phenomenon. When he and his father, Fran Peak, were invited to speak to a nearby Christian youth group, I was strongly prompted to attend.

The peaceful drive through rural towns with their snow-packed fields, farms, and shaggy horses felt surprisingly at home to me.

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