Parents of children with special needs have to navigate the world a little differently when it comes to everything from toys to education to travel. Fortunately, there are now more vacation options for families with children on the autism spectrum, thanks to Beaches Resorts by Sandals, as the resort chain become the first-ever to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) designation.
The designation comes on behalf of the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) and is developed by “physicians, therapists, parents, travel executives, and individuals with autism and other cognitive disorders.”
The chain has been a Certified Autism Center since 2017.
Staff at three Beaches resorts — Beaches Negril, Beaches Ocho Rios and Beaches Turks and Caicos — will complete sensitivity training this month in order to provide a safe environment for children on the autism spectrum.
The ACAC training will expand to include employees working in the resort’s water sports programs, including Professional Association of Dive Instructors-certified dive professionals.
Select team members will earn the ACAC destination for aqua centers at the properties. That means children on the spectrum can enjoy all the resorts have to offer safely.
This is a particularly good option for children, as swimming is regarded as therapeutic for children with autism.
In fact, the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation says that swimming can help them improve “speech, coordination, social skills, self-esteem, and cognitive processing.”
Beaches Resorts will offer personalized childcare in the form of a ICCES-certified buddy. (Parents must pre-book and pay a fee for this specialized service.)
The assistance begins before your trip does. Parents will receive a pre-travel questionnaire to share special requests with the team in advance.
Once on property, there is a Culinary Concierge program to help with dietary restrictions.
At check-in, Beaches Resorts also offers sensory toys and information about the location and times of quiet spaces. As a result, parents and their children can feel comfortable.
The entertainment and kids camps have been modified with children on the spectrum in mind. Now, there are ample sensory-friendly options for families.
One of the highlights is Julia, a “Sesame Street” character who is on the spectrum. Children can participate in an “Amazing Art with Julia” activity.
Four-year-old Julia greets youngsters and guides them through artistic expression.
Children on the autism spectrum and their families can safely explore beach paradise, water parks and much more.