Summer is almost here, which means vacation planning is in full swing for many families. But for those who are traveling with someone with autism spectrum disorder, it might take a bit more to plan the perfect family vacation. One resort chain is helping families stress less and play more, for a trip everyone can enjoy. Beaches Resorts just attained an advanced certified autism center credential, making it the first family travel destination to attain this achievement.
The autism awareness training, which will be completed in May, will take affect across all Beaches properties including Beaches Negril Beach Resort & Spa; Beaches Ocho Rios Spa, Golf, & Waterpark Resort; and Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa, according to a statement from the company.
All resorts will now include, as per Travel Pulse:
- A pre-travel questionnaire to identify requests and preferences for special needs families.
- Chef consultations to support specific dietary restrictions and special requests.
- Check-in options for an in-room check-in, as well as making sensory toys available for kids who need them during the check-in process.
- Designated quiet spaces through out the resorts.
- Modified kids camp experiences to make it more sensory-friendly.
- Autism awareness-trained water sports instructors.
But perhaps the best change of all is the inclusion of the one-on-one buddy program as a childcare option, for those kids who would like to opt out of the group setting, according to a news release from the company.
Beaches also announced the arrival of Julia, the first muppet on the autism spectrum, to their resort, Travel Pulse noted. She's now an important part of their current line up of Sesame Street characters for their kids club shows.
More information about the resorts' autism-inclusive features can be found on the company's website.
There's been a lot of focus on autism-friendly travel, and for good reason. Autism affects a large portion of the population and for some with this condition (and their caretakers) travel can be daunting.
Recently, JetSuiteX in conjunction with the group Autism Double-Checked, set up a program where children and adults with autism can practice getting on and off a plane, according to NBC News Los Angeles. Because no matter how much thought goes into a family vacation, you have to get there first.
Autism affects one in every 59 children and is prevalent in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it seems to affect boys four more times than girls.
People with an autism spectrum disorder can struggle while interacting and communicating with others, experience repetitive actions, have very specific interests, and have other symptoms, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Symptoms of autism can include hand-flapping or body rocking, extreme resistance to changes in routine, speech delays, and avoiding eye contact, according to WebMD.
People with autism can benefit from a number of different therapies, including occupational therapy and speech therapy, as per a blog post shared on the Autism Speaks website.
Perhaps vacation with your family can be seen as a form of therapy — new experiences, adventures, and memories. And when the vacation destination specializes in autism awareness, the results could be magical. So, get planning. Summer is almost here.