Accessible Journeys magazine Fall 2022 - Page 30


Top destinations for autism families in the U . S . by Lisa Guthrie Deabill

hould we fly or drive ? Where

S should we stay ? What are the best restaurants and activities there ? Those are just some of the questions we ponder while planning a vacation . But for families with a loved one with special needs , like autism , much more needs to be considered .

Three destinations in the United States are among the best for accommodating people on the autism spectrum .
Mesa , Arizona
Located in the southwest , Mesa , Arizona holds the distinction of being named the first Autism Certified City in the world . The designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards ( IBCCES ) is given to communities that excel at training staff and leaders to help people with autism . The IBCCES also developed a sensory guide for attractions in the Mesa area . The guide includes a sensory level of 1 to 10 for each attraction along with a short description of what visitors can expect .
Mesa also boasts dozens of hotels , restaurants and attractions that are autism certified . The OdySea Aquarium is one of these . It ’ s the largest aquarium in the southwest and home to more than 30,000 animals . Guests who need a break from the exhibits can head to a designated quiet area or quiet room .
If you have a dinosaur lover in your family , the Arizona Museum of Natural History is the place to go . Creatures from the Mesozoic Era come to life on Dinosaur Mountain . And every 23 minutes , a flash flood cascades down the three-story mountain . Most exhibits at the museum fall under 5 on the sensory guides .
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