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A Sensory-Friendly Paradise

March 8, 2023
Discovery Cove is proud to announce our recertification as a Certified Autism Centerâ„¢.
Ensuring a tropical paradise that is inclusive of all guests is a cornerstone of the Discovery Cove experience. Since 2019 our tropical day resort has proudly partnered with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), a global leader in online training and certification programs, to be a Certified Autism Center™ (CAC). We are proud to offer specialized services to guests with autism and other special needs.

Certified Staff
Discovery Cove Ambassadors receive specialized training to ensure they have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament, and expertise to cater to all guests, including those with hidden disabilities. IBCCES’ training focuses on sensory awareness, motor skills, program development, social skills, communication, environment, and emotional awareness.

“The up-close animal encounters experienced at Discovery Cove changes lives forever – for our guests, but also for our team members who care for these amazing animals every day,” said Kelly Flaherty Clark, Vice President of Zoological for Discovery Cove Orlando, who also sits on the IBCCES Advisory Board and is an advocate for the community. “This certification is an indication of how hard we work to make sure these life-changing moments can be enjoyed by all guests, in particular those with autism spectrum disorder.”

Discovery Cove Ambassador

“One special moment when I was there happened when we were all swimming with dolphins, and I had unexpected balance issues when I was in the water that day. The amazing thing that happened was that every single person there just showed me no judgment. There were no stares or talking behind my back. There was just a lending hand asking - how can we help. That open communication meant the world to me. By having that awareness and education, Discovery Cove helped an autistic adult like myself have a wonderful time and take a photo with a dolphin,” shared Dr. Kerry Magro, autistic self-advocate, public speaker and author.

Quiet Space
Discovery Cove has lots of open, clear space; this makes attractions and services more accessible and reduces “sensory overload” for guests with cognitive disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Guests in need of some quiet time and relief from sensory stimulation can utilize our Quiet Space located near our First Aid center. This space is a low traffic and low noise area with seating for guests who need to take a break.

IBCCES Sensory Guide™
Our IBCCES Sensory Guide provides insight on how a guest with sensory issues may be affected by each sense for experiences at Discovery Cove. Click here for the full guide.

“We're thrilled to see the continued commitment and enthusiasm of the team at Discovery Cove to serving all guests’ needs including autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors. With the team's focus on continuous accessibility enhancements and their leadership in this industry, our programs provide long-term support and resources to ensure that all guests feel welcomed and safe during their time at Discovery Cove,” shared IBCCES board chairman, Myron Pincomb.

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