MONTEGO BAY — Beaches Resorts has unveiled all-new Sensory Guides ahead of Autism Acceptance Month.
Carefully developed by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (BCCES), the guides are designed to allow caregivers and guests with cognitive disabilities to more comfortably navigate the on-resort experience based on specific sensory activities. Users will find resort maps with public areas such as pools, dining spaces and sports hubs that are rated on a 1-10 scale of sensory stimulation.
“At Beaches Resorts, the word ‘inclusive’ has dual meanings – one speaks to our business model, and the other speaks to our mission,” said Joel Ryan, Group Manager Themed Entertainment and Children’s Activities, and a key player in the curation of the program’s offerings since its inception. “Our enduring commitment to do more in this very important space, and to do it better, has inspired many new programs across our resorts to create a vacation experience that’s safe and comfortable for all.
Debuting just in time for Autism Acceptance Month, which is celebrated each year during the month of April, Beaches’ Sensory Guides are in line with the brand’s mission to create an inclusive vacation experience for guests with cognitive disabilities. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects approximately 1 in every 50 children and adolescents in Canada.
Throughout the month of April, all resorts across the Beaches portfolio will offer daily sensory arts and crafts, as well as added activities through the brand’s partnership with Sesame Street.
Beaches Resorts also offers one-on-one Beaches Buddies, accredited staff members who can join the family for an hour, a day or for their entire stay, at an additional cost. Additional programs include Beaches’ Culinary Concierge, through which families can pre-plan meals according to dietary preferences and allergies.
In 2017, Beaches Resorts became the first resort company to be designated a Certified Autism Center (CAC), later evolving its beloved Sesame Street programming to include Julia, a four-year-old character on the autism spectrum that same year. In 2019, the brand became the first to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) designation from the IBCCES, through which it was able to ensure that at least 80% of customer-facing staff have the knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum.
COMING SOON: AUTISM WEEK
In a recent survey conducted by the IBCCES, 94% of surveyed families shared that they would take more vacations or visit more new places if they had access to autism-trained and certified options.
In light of this, the resort company is set to host its first-ever dedicated autism week for loyalty members and guests at Beaches Ocho Rios in Jamaica from Oct. 9-13, 2023. Families with children on the spectrum can look forward to daily arts and crafts with Sesame Street’s Julia, fireside chats with autism experts, a private dinner and more, all with the help of a dedicated Beaches Buddy per family.
For more information about autism week, call 1-844-360-9380 to speak with Beaches’ Special Services Team, certified by IBCCES, or go to https://www.beaches.com/all-inclusive/autism-friendly/. A pre-arrival questionnaire is also available to help the Beaches Resorts team customize a supportive experience.