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Thursday, October 21, 2021


In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

Judith Newman at National Geographic:
[M]ore parks and recreation centers are seeking recognition as “Certified Autism Centers.” The imprimatur comes from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), which oversees training in the field of cognitive disorders originally created by the Autism Society of America.

The National Park Service formed its own Accessibility Task Force in 2012, with the goal of making some areas of the outdoors available to those with physical disabilities. It’s only been in the last two years that the NPS has discussed extending its accommodations to those with developmental disabilities like Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The National Parks access pass for autism is still not widely known, but you can apply for $10 and get free access to virtually every national park in the country.

Despite abundant research showing that spending time in nature can be deeply soothing to those on the spectrum (as it is to the rest of us) and can even help improve attention and focus, there are significant obstacles. The list of triggers includes new smells, new sensations, unfamiliar noises, too much light…the list goes on and on. With natural beauty, there is also a great deal of unpredictability. Certainly no one can control the weather.

For autistic families, the great outdoors is not a first choice. According to one recent study by the IBCCES, 87 percent of autism families never go on vacation at all. When they do go, it might be to a theme park, or a city.

But the new IBCCES initiative to certify certain parks and recreation centers as autism-friendly could be a game changer. To earn certification, 80 percent of all personnel must receive specialized training on dealing with people on the spectrum.