The Reading Public Museum renews autism certification and maintains the Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation from The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). Every two years, staff at CACs must renew their training to ensure they are equipped with the newest resources and understand the best practices to maintain a safe, welcome and inclusive environment for autistic and sensory-sensitive guests and their families. This training covers various topics, including sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness.
Becky Ruth, coordinator of education, events and outreach, says, “Our Education Department is always looking for new ideas for programs or even daily offerings that can help make the Reading Public Museum a more welcoming and accessible place for everyone.”
Since becoming a CAC in 2018, the Reading Public Museum has introduced a variety of new programs to support guests with sensitivity needs. The museum hosts low sensory hours before and/or after public hours for a limited number of registered guests. During these times, guests receive a sensory map and kit, and they can enjoy the museum and special exhibitions in an environment that accommodates varying sensory needs. For the past two years, the museum has also hosted sensory-inclusive fireworks. This event allows guests with varying sensory needs to enjoy the fun of Fourth of July fireworks without the extra stimulation that often occurs during regular firework shows. This program is hosted in the museum’s state-of-the-art planetarium, and silent fireworks are projected on the planetarium dome for guests to enjoy.
“Our Sensory Inclusive Fireworks show that takes place around the Fourth of July, is one of our most popular events. Each year it sells out and we always receive comments from families about how happy they are that something like this exists in our community,” says Ruth.
“Continuing education and staying up-to-date on the best practices and latest information is essential in creating an environment that promotes ongoing inclusivity,” states Myron Pincomb, board chairman of IBCCES. “We’re proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the Reading Public Museum to recertify them as a CAC. We hope that their dedication to creating a safe and accessible space for all guests will inspire others to follow suit.”
IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe for more than 20 years. IBCCES is the only global credentialing board providing travel and entertainment organizations with training and certification from subject-matter experts and autistic self-advocates, and other resources, as well as long-term support that helps them understand how to better accommodate and assist autistic or sensory-sensitive visitors and their families.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for families that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met the Certified Autism Center (CAC) requirements.