Family & Parenting

This Orlando Attraction Has Become The First Autism-Certified Water Park In The World

This is so cool. The park has taken some serious measures to be inclusive of visitors with autism.

There’s an exciting new attraction in Orlando, but it’s not notable for having the most exhilarating rides or over-the-top snacks. In fact, this fun-filled water park has been around for a while, but it is breaking through barriers and making a difference this year after earning a special certification.

Aquatica Orlando has become the first Certified Autism Center water park. The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, or IBCCES, recently completed a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training as well as an onsite review of Aquatica Orlando so it could earn its CAC status.

The staff at Aquatica will have ongoing training in how to help park guests with autism spectrum disorder and their families. Employees will stay up to date on sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development and emotional awareness, and they’ll complete an autism competency exam. For Aquatica Orlando to maintain its certification, employees must take autism training every two years.

Aquatica Orlando

All of that adds up to a positive experience for families and every family member every time they visit Aquatica. “We continually strive to create safe and meaningful experiences for all of our guests, and we are committed in our effort to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs,” said David Heaton, vice president of Aquatica Orlando, in a release about the certification.

When they arrive, guests will receive specific information about attractions and in-park accommodations, so they can plan the day to make the best choices for the whole family. In addition to the usual wave pools and water slides, Aquatica also has low-sensory and quiet areas that families can go to if the water park gets overwhelming.

Aquatica Orlando

Previously, IBCCES focused on autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators. But the organization saw that this training can be helpful elsewhere, too.

They also noticed that families with children who have special needs often have limited travel options. But with a few updates and staff-awareness training, many family destinations can accommodate children with autism. So IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry.

If a water park isn’t your family’s cup of tea, there is another CAC park nearby: Sesame Place became the world’s first CAC theme park last April.