OdySea Aquarium rated autism-friendly

OdySea Aquarium is the first attraction and aquarium in the state to become a certified autism center (OdySea Aquarium/Special to the Progress)

OdySea Aquarium in southern Scottsdale is the first attraction and aquarium in the state to become a Certified Autism Center.

That means visitors and families with children who have autism and other sensory differences can have the best possible experience.

The CAC designation was granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continued Education Standards, a global leader in online training and certification programs for 20 years.

The board is committed to increasing the quality of life and services provided to individuals on the spectrum.

“We know families with children on the autism spectrum often find it challenging when choosing an attraction to visit,” said OdySea Aquarium Vice President and General Manager Greg Charbeneau, adding:

“Our mission to connect visitors with the wonders of the ocean has no exclusions.”

OdySea Aquarium completed the critical training required to recognize the needs of guests on the autism spectrum must provide necessary facility options for them.

“We have always made the necessary accommodations to make all guests as comfortable as possible – on every visit,” Charbeneau said. “This certification was a natural step for us as we continue to provide safe, engaging and memorable experiences for all of our guests.”

Accredited centers must be dedicated to serving individuals with autism, have at least 80 percent of the staff trained and certified and must be committed to ongoing training.

“Our goal is to partner with the leading organizations around the world to create safe, sensory-compatible options for parents and individuals on the spectrum,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board chairman.

He said the designation recognizes “organizations that are taking that extra step to ensure they are welcoming and accommodating for all guests, no matter their needs.”

OdySea Aquarium also is one of 12 PAL Places in the Valley and has produced an informative video, digital guides and on-site resources for families with children with non-visible disabilities.

For example, on OdySea Aquarium’s website, the aquarium ranks its various features for loudness and crowds on a Sensory Scale that uses a 1-to-10 scoring system, with 10 being maximum sensory input.

The loudness level is at a 6, the amount of walking at 5, while the crowd level also is 6 while the average stay in hours is three.

OdySea Aquarium has also hosted autism awareness days and offers a quiet room for guests who need a break.

OdySea Aquarium will also allow guests to return to the aquarium if they want to come back at another time that same day.

Studies show that watching fish in an aquarium can not only be effective in reducing anxiety, but aquariums can also help adults and children with autism and ADHD.

OdySea Aquarium is a multi-level, state-of-the-art facility that provides a calming environment.

As the largest aquarium in Arizona holding more than two million gallons of water, OdySea Aquarium features more than 65 exhibits, including subtle water exhibits, and 370 species of animals.

Information: 480-291-8000 or odyseaaquarium.com