Families with Autism can have a particularly difficult time finding travel destinations that have the appropriate accommodations for their family’s needs. Some may tout themselves as '“autism-friendly,” but what does that really mean?
Several destinations have become “Autism Certified,” meaning they’ve gone through extensive autism training for their entire staff and have gone through audits of their accommodations from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Educational Standards.
And Beaches Resorts (in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos) have gone a step further, and have become an Advanced Certified Autism Center, providing more support and accommodations for families with members on the Autism Spectrum
So why should families with Autism travel to a Beaches Resort?
Beaches Resorts have an Advanced Certified Autism Center designation. What does this mean? It means that in addition to the first round of Autism training the Beaches Resort staff went through last year, the staff has also completed an in-depth training of 40 credit hours on autism sensitivity and awareness, and has completed an audit by IBCCES to ensure compliance.
Beaches Resorts can provide families with Autism a “Beaches Buddy.” What is a Beaches Buddy? Families can hire a trained Aide to pal around with you and your family member with Autism. Whether a child or an adult with Autism, this Beaches Buddy can be an extra set of hands as you make your way through the day at Beaches, an extra set of eye for safety while you’re at the beachfront, or someone to give Mom or Dad a break - so they can have an adult conversation, a nap, a night out, or hang out with your family member with Autism, so you can spend some precious time with the other siblings in the family. Hired by the hour, and for an incredibly reasonable rate, these Beaches Buddies can be game-changers for families looking for a relaxing family vacation.
Beaches Resorts provide families with Autism a pre-travel questionnaire. Some resorts and cruises have a pre-travel questionnaires for families with disabilities, but none as comprehensive as the Beaches Resorts form. This questionnaire asks questions like: What forms of communication does your family member use? What therapy model does your family member follow at home? What social and visual cues do you use at home? How do you calm your family member? What are his/her triggers? What are his/her interests? What are his/her non-preferred activities? What are his/her dietary restrictions or food aversions?
Families with Autism can consult the Beaches Resorts’ Culinary Concierge. Whether it’s a food allergy, a special casein-free/gluten-free diet, or your family member has Food Aversions due to texture or smell, the Culinary Concierge can help! The Culinary Concierge can review the restaurants on property, and the menus choices at each location. They can even arrange for specific food from one restaurant to be delivered to another restaurant, so the family doesn’t have to limit their restaurant choices based on one individual’s food limitations.
Beaches Resorts have the “Amazing Art with Julia” program. The Beaches Resort Kid’s Club, kids with and without Autism can participate in the “Amazing Art with Julia” program. At select times and days, kids watch a Sesame Street episode introducing Julia to the other muppets on Sesame Street. Here, they learn that Julia does things in her “own Julia-way” because she has Autism. After the video, the kids work on an art project and Julia comes to visit the kids in the classroom. It’s a wonderful way to open the conversation about Autism, acceptance, and inclusion.