Ahead of World Autism Awareness week beginning on 29th March 2021, Beaches Resorts is continuing to raise awareness of its autism friendly facilities which are available at its three resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, with a fourth Beaches resort planned for St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
After becoming the first company in the world to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Centre (ACAC) designation by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), Beaches Resorts’ continues to celebrate its commitment to Autism awareness, ensuring that every family can enjoy a Luxury Included holiday in the Caribbean.
Since obtaining the ACAC accreditation in 2019, the Beaches Resorts’ customer-facing team members working across Entertainment, Watersports and Kids’ Camps operations as well as other areas of the resorts have received advanced training, which teaches individuals how to interact with families and children with additional needs, specifically children on the autistic spectrum. In addition, childcare staff at Beaches Resorts continuously receive training specifically relating to areas of Sensory Awareness, Motor Skills, Autism Overview, Programme Development, Social Skills, Communication, Environment, Emotional Awareness and Bullying.
In collaboration with the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) and IBCCES, the Beaches Resorts’ water sports staff have also completed the ACAC training and certification, making them the first in the Caribbean to earn the designation. This certification allows families with children on the spectrum of Autism to enjoy PADI-certified diving in world-class dive destinations together.
As well as specialist training of staff, Beaches Resorts introduced Special Services which gives families the option of a ‘One-on-One Beaches Buddy’ – personalised, private childcare with a buddy who is certified by IBCCES, and can be pre-booked (for a nominal fee) – as well as:
- A personalised pre-travel questionnaire to identify requests and preferences with a dedicated Special Services team to assist in the holiday planning process
- A Culinary Concierge programme to support specific dietary restrictions and special requests
- Modified check-in options for private, in-room, check-in and the availability of sensory toys for children during check-in
- Identification of quiet spaces during noisier times of the day and evening
- Modified design and decoration in Kids Camps and Entertainment areas to create a more sensory-friendly environment
- Dreampad pillows that feature a patented technology which sends soothing sounds and sleep music through gentle vibrations, to help with a better night’s sleep
- Twiddles®- playful activity/comfort aids that help children of all ages with a range of sensory-related conditions. They are designed to keep hands and minds active and engaged, or soothed and calmed
Beaches Resorts also welcomed Sesame Street’s first ever autistic character, Julia, to the collection of walkaround characters at Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos, in 2017. With her very own activity, ‘Amazing Art with Julia’, children have the chance to express who they are through their artwork. The introduction of Julia’s character provided staff with extensive training and the resources needed to ensure that all employees learnt how to recognise and work with families who have children on the autism spectrum.
Julia’s debut continues Beaches Resorts’ partnership with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street, and expands the resort company’s exclusive Beaches Resorts Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street® programme, now in its 17th year of partnership.