Partnering with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), the water park at Seaworld, Orlando has received its accreditation to be certified Autism Friendly (CAC). Within just a few feet of the water park area where children splash and play, a quiet room has been built to accommodate those who need a break from any situation which might become overwhelming.

Photo courtesy of Aquatica Orlando

Along with the quiet space, the folks at Seaworld have also introduced new signage to make the park easier to navigate; they have also provided attentive staff training. The staff who have been trained are known as Aquatica Orlando Ambassadors, who now have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to all children, including those with special needs. However, there is no mention of training to cater to adults, which is hopefully an oversight in their press release.

The changes are being received well by the families attending the park who are accompanying someone with Autism. Geoff Johnson said, “The park (Aquatica) has become so much more welcoming.” He went on to explain that having a quiet room allowed families the dignity to go off grid so that they didn’t have to face the displeasure of other families that don’t understand Autism. Jennifer Langley was delighted with the new facilities, she felt that for too long they had been shunned as a family and not made to feel welcome, even at Disney, the most magical place on earth! “The signs are great too,” added Jennifer, “…we are able to check out signs before we get anywhere near the rides, if the ride is not suitable we avoid them.”

The management said that they saw a market opportunity and decided to run with the project, and it has proved to be worthwhile. It meant an investment in staff, as well as physical changes as 80% of staff, had to be trained and accredited before we could receive the CAC stamp of approval. The water park is also making their sensory guide available for all guests and we have attached a link to it here.

Michael Holden

Michael Holden

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