MONTEGO BAY — In honour of Autism Acceptance Month, Beaches Resorts has extended its Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) accreditation through 2023, maintaining its position as the first and only ACAC resort company in the world.
Building upon an existing partnership with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), the global leader in cognitive disorder training and certification, the initiative will ensure a safe, fun and comfortable vacation experience tailored to families with children on the autism spectrum.
Through the ACAC recertification process, Beaches Resorts’ team members in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos will be eligible to participate in advanced autism training virtually over the next several months. Training will focus on the resorts’ key touchpoint areas, including kids camps, entertainment, front desk/reception, food and beverage and watersports operations.
The recertification process will also expand to training of team members at the Airport Arrival Lounge/Reception Area in Montego Bay and Providenciales.
In collaboration with IBCCES, Beaches will also launch a Sensory Stimulation Guide for guests with sensory needs, which will outline the degree of sensory stimulation in a specific area or event. Designated ‘Low Sensory Areas’ will also be identified at all resorts, allowing guests to find comfort in spaces should they need a break from sensory stimulation. These locations will be easily identifiable through resort maps, on-site signage and in pre-travel planning materials.
With one in 66 children in Canada diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, special needs travel continues to be one of the fastest-growing family travel segments and one that is severely underserved, says Beaches Resorts.
“As the first resort company in the world to attain the distinguished ACAC credentials, we’re proud of the world we’ve accomplished to date and look forward to finding new ways to demonstrate our commitment to autism acceptance and inclusion while creating an autism-friendly environment,” said Joel Ryan, Group Manager Themed Entertainment and Children’s Activities. “As the best-in-class, luxury vacation experience, we have always strived for an inclusive experience that allows parents to have confidence in selecting our resorts, knowing their children can feel comfortable and safe, have fun and make lifelong memories.”
The Beaches Resorts ACAC recertification builds on the existing measures in place to serve the autism community, which include:
- In-depth education for Beaches Resorts staff, with 40 credit hours on autism sensitivity and awareness, centered on communication, motor skills, social skills, environment awareness, emotional awareness, bullying, early childhood identification, transition to adulthood, and more.
- Advanced training with particular emphasis on the company’s Kids Camps, Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Front Desk/Reception and Watersports operations.
- An annual onsite audit and review by the IBCCES team.
- Changes to protocols and physical space to accommodate various needs.
- An optional service of ‘One-on-One Beaches Buddy’ providing personalized, private childcare with a buddy who is autism certified, and can be pre-booked for a nominal fee.
- A dedicated toll-free number to Beaches’ Special Services Team, certified by IBCCES, and able to assist both consumers and travel professionals who wish to learn more about a Beaches vacation and on resort autism programming.
- A Culinary Concierge program to support specific dietary restrictions and special requests.
- Modified check-in options for private, in-room, check-in.
- Availability of sensory toys as well as DreamPad pillows for children’s use.
- Modified design and decoration in Kids Camps and key entertainment areas to create a more sensory-friendly environment.
On its ongoing partnership with Beaches, Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman and CEO, said: “Like the rest of the world, we know families and autistic individuals are looking forward to traveling, visiting new places, and making new memories as soon as they are able to. They are also looking for organizations that are trained and certified in autism, particularly leaders like Beaches Resorts, who go above and beyond. The professionalism, dedication and enthusiasm of the team at Beaches Resorts is second to none, and we are thrilled to continue our partnership to provide long-lasting support and impact.”
In 2017, Beaches Resorts became the first resort company in the world to be recognized by IBCCES as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) and, as part of their larger Sesame Street partnership, also introduced Julia, a four-year-old girl on the autism spectrum, who brought an exclusive new activity to Beaches Resorts: ‘Amazing Art with Julia.’ Two years later, Beaches then became the first to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC).
For more information go to https://www.beaches.com/all-inclusive/autism-friendly/.