Organizations that provide a tool, product or resource for individuals with cognitive disorders have an important opportunity to position themselves as a leader within the autism community by becoming a Certified Autism Resource (CAR).
What is a Certified Autism Resource?
A Certified Autism Resource, or CAR, is a product or service that has undergone a comprehensive board review conducted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), and meets one or more of the six areas of autism competency as outlined by the Board.
Individuals with autism as well as parents and caregivers of those on the spectrum are always looking for trusted resources that can provide a therapeutic benefit, improve quality of life, or make day-to-day life easier.
The Autism Population is a Growing Segment of the Market
Autism is currently the fastest growing disorder in the United States and impacts the lives of millions of people. According to the CDC, one in 54 children are diagnosed with autism in the United States alone. 2.2 percent of American adults have autism, which is approximately 5.4 million people over the age of 18.
Individual Families Spend Tens of Thousands on Autism Each Year
As more and more families are impacted by this disorder every day, the costs can be substantial. According to the CDC, a family will typically spend $40,000-$60,000 annually for services including speech and occupational therapy, behavioral interventions and other services, and that excludes extra medical costs (which average 6 times higher than the average child, at about $10,000 annually).
For families who are impacted by autism it can be stressful and exhausting trying to decide where money should be spent to have the greatest benefit for their loved one. Becoming a CAR can help your business stand out among the competition and give families with loved ones on the spectrum peace of mind that your product or service can effectively meet the needs of individuals with autism.
Areas of Need
While there are some fantastic resources available to families and individuals impacted by autism, there is a huge gap between this growing population and the services and products they want and need.
We have included some major areas of need to help you decide if your small business is a good fit for the CAR certification.
Apps and Learning Tools
Apps and learning tools are incredibly popular, but there is a need for more that have been certified to ensure that they are the best fit for those with autism.
An example of a learning tool that has been certified is Monarch, an award-winning online curriculum from AOP that offers courses for grades 3-12. Monarch also includes beneficial features such as complete customization, text-to-speech, and automatic grading. Waterford Early Learning is another great example of a CAR. Their learning platform offers personalized reading, math and science programs. After becoming a CAR they have been able to reach the right market and use their mastery-based sequencing, adaptive instruction, and remediation tools to enhance their program and make it a powerful learning process for children on the spectrum.
Other examples that have already received their certification include C8 Sciences, CEU Outlet, ONEder, Time4Learning, and Ignitia.
Another strong area of need is safety gear. Families who are investing in safety gear for their loved one want to know that the product will work for their child or family member. Safety gear products that receive the CAR certification are able to communicate to families that they understand the complexities of autism and that providing safety to the autism population is their number one priority.
Opti-Cool Headgear received the CAR certification and is now able to differentiate themselves from competition as one of the few safety gear products that has undergone board review. The CAR certification ensures a level of credibility and helps build trust between your product and your customers.
Playground and Recreation Equipment Manufacturers
Manufacturers of playground and other play equipment have an important role in autism. For children on the spectrum, playgrounds serve as a fantastic place to enjoy new sensory details.
Individuals on the spectrum often experience either hyper-sensitivies (over-responsiveness) or hypo-sensitives (under-responsiveness) when it comes to new and different stimuli. The CAR certification ensures your playground or play equipment is fit for children on the spectrum. This could look like including areas with different textures, sounds, and colors. For playground manufacturers, becoming a CAR will allow children with autism to enjoy the play area while getting the right amount of stimulation without becoming overwhelmed.
Architecture and Design
Those with businesses in architecture and design also benefit greatly by becoming a CAR as this allows their buildings and designs to support those with special needs and encourage independent living.
An example of a CAR is Purposeful Architecture, a company that is focused on providing individual-centered design solutions that allow for safe and engaging living-learning environments.
Getting certified can help connect you with the right clientele and increase their confidence in your product and/or service.
Apparel is another area of need that can greatly benefit individuals on the spectrum when done correctly.
A great example of this is Vans. The company now sells sensory inclusive footwear designs as part of their Autism Awareness Collection. The footwear was designed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the forefront and the collection offers beneficial elements such as calming color options and design features that focus on touch, sight and sound.
Therapeutic Toys and Gadgets
Individuals with autism often find therapeutic toys and gadgets very beneficial, but with many options available, they want to know which resources are most effective. The CAR certification provides product differentiation and puts your product in front of a high demand market.
Some examples of certified products include Twiddle – cozy, therapeutic aids that help those with autism to calm, engage and self-regulate – along with Snug Vest and Dreampad Pillow.
With our reliance on technology growing, assistive technology has become a significant component in the learning and development process for those on the spectrum. Platforms, like FrontRow, provide voice amplification systems that help teachers & students connect and apps, such as InnerVoice, help children with autism or other challenges with communication learn to speak for themselves.
These innovative tools will only grow more and more popular and the ones that establish trust and credibility through becoming a CAR will have an unparalleled head start.
Add Value to Your Business By Becoming a CAR
If your product or service has the ability to serve those on the spectrum then becoming a CAR is essential. Especially when given a choice, family members and caregivers of those with autism will always choose the certified product or service to ensure the highest of quality.
Becoming a CAR doesn’t just benefit your customers or desired market, it benefits your business in a big way.
When your product or service undergoes the board review, it is evaluated by experts on a unique and individual level to establish product differentiation that will enable it to stand out from competitors.
Competitive Edge and Credibility
Not only will your product or service gain differentiation, but your business overall will as well. IBCCES has an international presence that is recognized around the world for setting the certification standards for professionals working with individuals with special needs and disabilities. After undergoing the CAR certification, your company will be positioned to have a competitive edge and a sturdy foundation of credibility.
Peace of mind is valuable to customers and when you become a CAR you give customers confidence in your product or service by providing the knowing that it has been evaluated by the organization that sets the standards for autism certification.
Market Access and Increased Reach
If you are looking to break into new markets and expand the reach of your product or service, the CAR certification is an effective way to increase market access.
Is Becoming a CAR Right For Your Business?
To become a CAR, your product or service must meet one or more of the six areas of autism competency. These areas include:
- Autism Overview
- Behavior Competency
- Program Development Competency
- Early Childhood Identification Competency
- Parent Communication Competency
- Comorbidities Competency
Becoming certified ensures the following:
- A Certified Autism Resource Digital Badge that can be used on digital marketing materials and social media outlets
- Promotion on the IBCCES website as a Certified Autism Resource
- Listing on CertifiedAutismCenter.com and AutismTravel.com as a Certified Autism Resource
- As appropriate, IBCCES will recommend CARs to partners, such as Certified Autism Centers
The certification process is straightforward and if your product or service is certified you have the opportunity to become an industry leader in the field of autism.
The certification process consists of five steps:
- Submit your application
- Initial IBCCES board review
- IBCCES verification
- Board approval
- Certification issued
Taking Next Steps to Become an Industry Leader
Autism currently impacts more lives than it ever has. Your product or service has the opportunity to make a real impact in the lives of millions of people and your business has the chance to stand out and set a new standard within your industry.
If autism certification seems like the next step for your product or service, click here to learn more about the application process.