McFarland State Historic Park and Florence Visitor Center has earned the Certified Autism Center™ designation through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). IBCCES’ training and certification provides Park staff the tools and resources to help create memorable experiences for autistic visitors and those with sensory sensitivities.
The Park joins the movement initiated by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to work with IBCCES to make Florence the next Autism Certified City (ACC). Other organizations and individuals have also joined, and more are committing as the initiative moves forward. The ACC designation is awarded to cities where key areas of the community, including healthcare, education, local government, hospitality, recreation, and corporate members, are trained and certified to serve autistic individuals and those with other sensory disorders better.
“We are very excited to be the first Certified Autism Center™ in Florence. We feel that sensitivity and autism awareness plays a vital role in today’s world, and the increased understanding and compassion can lead to a better experience for all residents and visitors alike,” said Roger Biede, Florence Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “The certification is part of a larger initiative to address how Florence, Arizona, can better serve the community and increase inclusivity.”
For more than 20 years, IBCCES has been the leader in autism and cognitive disorder certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals worldwide. IBCCES recognized that many autistic individuals and families with autistic children had limited options available where they felt welcomed and understood. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality, recreation and travel industry. The phrase “autism friendly” means something different to everyone, and more parents and individuals are seeking out organizations that have completed a formal certification from an accredited credentialing source with long-term goals and support. IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of training and certification, which includes evidence-based training as well as the perspectives of autistic individuals, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews, customized recommendations, and long-term support and guidance to ensure the program is a long-term commitment and has a lasting impact.
“We’re thrilled to work with McFarland State Historic Park to ensure their team can provide positive interactions and accommodations for all visitors and residents. We strive to make sure all families and individuals can have peace of mind when visiting new places,” 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.