On Feb. 19, Discovery Cove announced that they are now the first all-inclusive animal interaction park in the U.S. to be designated as a Certified Autism Center (CAC).
The park received this designation after the completion of a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training, as well as an onsite review of the park property and their guest experience.
This certification is distinguished by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). SeaWorld Orlando’s water park, Aquatica Orlando, recently received this same designation earlier this year.
Working with IBCCES, the staff at the animal interaction park will continually be trained to help guests with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families, to better provide a positive experience during their visit. Guests will also be provided with specific information about each Discovery Cove experience, along with in-park accommodations to help them plan their day according to their individual needs. The park will also offer a quiet space with adjustable lighting and comfortable seating for guests looking to take a break.
“Discovery Cove has been recognized for its adventure-filled yet relaxed environment with a variety of open, clear spaces that make attractions and services more accessible, and reduces sensory overload for guests with cognitive disorders,” said Kyle Miller, president of Discovery Cove. “Autism certification is a natural step for us as we continue to create safe and meaningful experiences for all of our guests. We have seen how well-received this certification has been at our Sesame Place and Aquatica Orlando parks, and we are committed in our efforts to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”
Training will cover the areas of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness, as well as a comprehensive Autism competency exam. The training must be taken every two years to maintain the certification.
“After so many years of learning how to integrate our 15-year-old son with autism into our community, it is refreshing to witness society becoming more aware of how hard we work to provide the same type of recreation and entertainment families without special needs enjoy,” said Larry Celzo, member of the IBCCES community and parent to a son on the Autism spectrum. “I really applaud the organizations who go above and beyond to become trained and certified in autism and other special needs.”
To learn more about Discovery Cove, and to plan your own visit, head to DiscoveryCove.com.