Ahead of Autism Acceptance Month (April), Discovery Cove is announcing its renewal as a Certified Autism Center™, a designation the park has proudly maintained since 2019. The first all-inclusive day resort and animal interaction park in the U.S to earn the certification from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), Discovery Cove is committed to providing an ideal setting for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to live fully, whether as guests enjoying an unforgettable vacation experience, or as valued park employees working their dream job. As part of its ongoing commitment to providing a welcoming atmosphere for autistic guests, Discovery Cove deployed IBCCES’ specialised training for staff; created sensory guides and online resources for guests; and incorporated designated quiet spaces within the park.
IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe for more than 20 years. IBCCES is the only global credentialing board providing travel and entertainment organisations with training and certification from subject-matter experts and autistic self-advocates, and other resources, as well as long-term support that helps them understand how to better accommodate and assist autistic or sensory-sensitive visitors and their families.
Discovery Cove employees, known as Ambassadors, receive specialised training to ensure they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to autistic and sensory-sensitive guests. The training focuses on sensory awareness, motor skills, program development, social skills, communication, environment, and emotional awareness. A downloadable IBCCES Sensory Guide provides insight on how an individual with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for the various experiences at Discovery Cove. In addition to the park’s wide open, clear spaces which can reduce sensory overload overall, there is a designated quiet space for additional relief from sensory stimulation.
In addition to providing an appealing atmosphere for guests, Discovery Cove is an inviting workplace for those with ASD, allowing for own-pace growth, which reduces stress and pressure, and the creation of special bonds between team members and the animals.