Traveling with an autistic child can be a challenge. Sensory issues often hamper the enjoyment of activities that non autistic kids take for granted, things like going to the beach, an amusement park, or the zoo. Now Zoo Miami has become an Autism Certified zoo, the first such institution in the state of Florida. It's employees have been trained to deal with guests on the Autism Spectrum and their families; as well as other differently challenged visitors.
With greater recognition of what sensory-sensitive kids need, Zoo Miami is making a concerted effort to make the zoo experience fun and comfortable for those on the Autism Spectrum.
Headphones to minimize noise are provided to kids who might be bothered by the unusual and random sounds of animals and even other enthusiastic children. Keeping hypersensitive children calm allows them to absorb information without being overstimulated. Amanda Morin, author of The Everything Parent's Guide to Special Education, says it's important that sound is only muffled because of safety concerns.
Other aids are available for the kids such as fidget toys and stress balls which are designed to help these children cope with the new environment. They are also making an effort to alert parents to the areas of the zoo that may trigger anxiety responses. The staff are also working on Zoo Sensory Guides to be available in the spring.
With repeated visits, kids may become accustomed to visiting the zoo. The more comfortable sensory-sensitive kids are, the more they will benefit from the educational opportunities offered by seeing animals. It will also help them with socialization. Seeing animal habitats will expand their abilities to cope with public spaces and give them outlet for recreation and fun.
Working with those on the Autism Spectrum is a rewarding career. Contact us for more information on finding a position in this or other Behavioral Health positions.
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