Did you know that one in sixty-eight children is now on the Autism Spectrum? That is a staggering statistic and it means that there are many families, mine included that have someone in their lives living with this. In my case we have two special kiddos on the Autism Spectrum, my nine-year old Luke and my six-year old Jackson are both on the Spectrum. Luke is high functioning Autistic and Jackson has Asperger’s and since we have other kids too, traveling for us can be a chore. Heading someplace with a large group can be a headache to begin with but add-on having to worry about if a place understands the unique issues of children with developmental disabilities, sensory and emotional issues and it can just add a whole extra layer to travel planning. Luckily though Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line awarded Autism-Friendly Certification by Autism on the Seas. Autism on the Seas is the leading travel organization catering to vacationers with autism and other developmental disabilities.
I know what you are thinking… So what does Autism-Friendly Certification mean?
There are four levels of certification and they include bronze, silver, gold and diamond. Depending on the level of certification awarded, the ships can be required to meet seven categories, including:
1. Cruise Staff Training
2. Youth Program
3. Pre-Vacation Planning & Services
5. Disability Accommodations
6. Guest Satisfaction & Feedback
7. Support for “Cruises with Autism on
the Seas Staff”
From the press release from Autism on the Seas here are the details on the certification and what each one entails:
- Bronze Certification: Confirms the ship’s readiness to accommodate guests with autism and other developmental disabilities to provide equal access on-board services and
amenities. Some of the reasonable accommodations include providing sensory related toys and cruise social story, autism friendly modification to youth activities (where
appropriate), autism friendly movies, priority boarding, dietary offerings (including gluten-free and dairy free), and several modifications to services for groups of guests with disabilities.See AutismontheSeas.com for a full list.
- Silver, Gold and Diamond Level: Focuses on increased staff training. Silver Level ensures that all Youth Staff have received basic awareness training in autism and other
developmental disabilities. Gold Level ensures that all Youth Staff have received advanced training, and we provide other shipboard staff with basic awareness training. Diamond Level ensures that we provide “hands-on” training for our Youth Staff.
This is such a major advancement in travel for families nowadays and I am so pleased that Royal Caribbean was the first cruise line to be awarded the Autism-Friendly Certification because they are always trying to make their guests have the best possible experience. To learn specific details about what Royal Caribbean is doing on their ships for Autism families head on over here, you can also check out the FAQs or you can download the Cruising Social Story too.