Mall of America (MOA) and Nickelodeon Universe, the seven-acre theme park inside MOA, will now officially be recognized as Certified Autism Centers (CAC), granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). As the first destination in Minnesota to become a Certified Autism Center, the certification means that visitors and families with children who have autism and other sensory disorders can enjoy the best possible experience while visiting MOA that caters to their needs.
In order to earn the designation, 80 percent or more of the guest-facing staff had to complete the autism sensitivity and awareness training provided by IBCCES. MOA and Nickelodeon Universe also underwent an onsite review by IBCCES, which included recommendations to make the park more accessible for visitors with sensory sensitivities, as well as sensory guides for each ride to better prepare guests on what to expect when they arrive.
“We continually look at ways to invest in the guest experience, ensuring that everyone who visits Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe has the best day ever,” said Jill Renslow, SVP of Business Development for Mall of America. “Working with the IBCCES to become a Certified Autism Center will ensure our team members are equipped with the proper knowledge and skills to communicate and assist those with sensory sensitivities in the most positive and effective way. We are proud to have completed the certification process but recognize this is just one step forward to identify new ways to further improve the overall guest experience.”
For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel options. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry. While many destinations tout “autism-friendly” options, this phrase does not necessarily indicate a true understanding of these families’ requirements. More parents are seeking out destinations that have completed research-based training and professional review as they review travel options.
“Our goal is to ensure families with children on the spectrum have the same opportunities to experience attractions and new destinations as anyone else. Our Certified Autism Center designation is awarded to industry leaders who are paving the way to make sure they are welcoming these individuals and are choosing to complete a third-party, evidence-based process to ensure they are prepared,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center (CAC) requirements.