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May 2019

Autism TravelAutism-friendly TravelAutism-friendly Vacations

Autism Society of America


New Partnership Provides More Options For Individuals With Autism

We are excited to share the news that the IBCCES Certified Autism Center (CAC) and Certified Autism Specialist (CAS) training and certification programs are the only programs in the world endorsed and approved by the Autism Society of America. The Autism Society is the oldest and largest autism organization in the world and serves over 650,000 individuals annually. They also have a network of 1 million families that will have access to information on the IBCCES Certified Autism Centers. This partnership will allow us to provide more options for individuals with autism and allow our certificate holders and Certified Autism Centers to reach more people than ever before. Learn more about IBCCES and The Autism Society. staff are Certified Senzorna.

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Beaches Resorts Attain Advanced Certified Autism Center Credential


Beaches Resorts Becomes First Resort Company to Attain Advanced Certified Autism Center Credential.

Families traveling with someone on the autism spectrum can feel at ease knowing they’re surrounded by a staff certified to assist their family in the best ways possible.

With Autism Awareness Month coming to a close, Beaches Resorts is proud to announce its commitment to enhancing its autism-friendly resorts by now becoming the first resort company in the world to attain the Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) designation by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

This new certification training to be completed in May spans all three Beaches Resorts—Beaches Negril Beach Resort & Spa and Beaches Ocho Rios Spa, Golf & Waterpark Resort in Jamaica and Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa in Turks & Caicos—with a core focus on the company’s Kids Camp, Entertainment and Watersports operations, as well as staff from other areas of the resort.

In April 2017, Beaches Resorts led the charge and became the first resort company in the world to be recognized by IBCCES as a Certified Autism Center (CAC).

With one in 59 children diagnosed with autism in the U.S., special-needs travel is the fastest-growing family travel segment. Beaches Resorts’ new level of commitment to this underserved market empowers its staff to confidently ensure every family can enjoy the award-winning Luxury Included® vacation experience in a safe, fun and comfortable manner tailored to their specific needs.

“We are proud to continue paving the way for families with individuals who have special needs, including children on the autism spectrum, to travel comfortably and truly live up to our tagline—the ‘Resorts for Everyone,’” said Adam Stewart, deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International.

“As a family-built brand, we want to provide all families with a superior level of service that makes them feel the most welcomed at our resorts. We are especially excited to further expand this important training to our resort’s watersports program, with PADI®-certified dive professionals and other team members earning a special ‘ACAC’ designation for each Aqua Center at Beaches, allowing children on the spectrum to safely experience the incredible waters of the Caribbean.”

The Certification Process & Special Services

The ACAC designation is the next level of certification once an organization has achieved the CAC certification. It underscores that the organization has gone above and beyond to train its staff and provide substantial modifications for visitors with autism or similar sensory needs, and designations are granted by the IBCCES.

The ACAC certification process—which will come to life across different aspects of the resorts, both pre-travel and on property—entails a variety of important aspects including:

—An in-depth training of 40 credit hours on autism sensitivity and awareness in the areas of communication, motor skills, social skills, environment awareness, emotional awareness, bullying, early childhood identification, transition to adulthood and more.

—Activities and accommodations that must be available for guests on the spectrum

—An annual on-site audit and review

—Substantial changes to protocols and physical space to accommodate various needs

Special Services include the option of a “One-on-One Beaches Buddy”—personalized, private childcare with a buddy who is certified by IBCCES and can be pre-booked (for a nominal fee)—as well as:

—A personalized pre-travel questionnaire to identify requests and preferences with a dedicated Special Services team to assist in the vacation planning process

—A Culinary Concierge program to support specific dietary restrictions and special requests

—Modified check-in options for private, in-room, check-in and the availability of sensory toys for children during check-in

—Identification of quiet spaces during noisier times of the day and evening

—Modified design and decoration in Kids Camps and Entertainment areas to create a more sensory-friendly environment

Since achieving the CAC certification in April 2017, Beaches Resorts has also been instrumental in extending training to hundreds of its travel agent partners, as well as internal sales and marketing teams, through IBCCES’ Certified Travel Agent Professional (CATP) in an effort to better communicate with and assist families within this highly specialized market.

“Beaches Resorts has gone above and beyond to lead the hospitality industry toward a more inclusive future for all families seeking unforgettable vacations tailored to their needs,” said Myron Pincomb, board chairman of IBCCES. “By becoming the first resorts to achieve the ACAC certification, Beaches is even more prepared to welcome families with autism, and we applaud them for their ongoing commitment and leadership in providing travel options for this underserved market.”

Calming Waters

Beaches Resorts’ watersports teams have also earned another first—staff has completed the ACAC training and certification, and are among the first to earn the designation in conjunction with a collaboration between the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) and IBCCES.

The certification makes appropriate programming from autism-certified staff available for families looking to enjoy daily PADI-certified diving at the company’s world-class dive operations, voted Top 10 in the world. According to a recent study of 1,000 parents with a child on the spectrum, 87 percent would be more inclined to visit centers where staff is trained and certified in autism awareness.

Many individuals on the autism spectrum are drawn to water, and the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF) highlights that swimming can help children on the spectrum improve speech, coordination and balance, social skills, self-esteem, cognitive processing, communication skills and oral motor skills.

“Diving has frequently proven to be a transformative and healing experience for individuals with physical or emotional challenges and their families,” said Kristin Valette-Wirth, chief marketing officer of PADI Worldwide.

“We are honored to work together with our global network of dive centers and resorts, including our longtime partner in Beaches Resorts, and IBCCES to offer more opportunities for those with special needs to heal, explore and connect through diving. Together with Beaches Resorts and IBCCES, we look forward to inspiring and enabling more travel and shared experiences for all to create lifelong memories that have the power to transform lives.”

The Introduction of Sesame Street’s Julia

In September 2017, as part of its long-standing partnership with Sesame Workshop®, Beaches Resorts introduced the arrival of Julia, a Sesame Street Muppet on the autism spectrum, who brought an exclusive new activity to Beaches Resorts: Amazing Art with Julia. During this activity, children are greeted by Julia, a 4-year-old girl on the autism spectrum, who loves to paint. Julia highlights how people can express themselves through art, and children can explore, experiment and create in an open-ended art activity.

As part of brand-wide efforts to increase awareness of autism, all Beaches Resorts staff underwent sensitivity training with “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” resources.

For more information about Beaches Resorts’ autism-friendly resorts in the Caribbean, please visit

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Traveling with Children


An estimated 2.4 million children from the United States travel internationally each year, and the number is increasing. In general, children face most of the same health risks as their parents, but the consequences can be more serious. Some conditions can be difficult to recognize in children, especially in those who aren’t talking yet. If you are planning to travel to another country with your kids, be familiar with the risks of travel to help them stay safe and healthy.

Pre-travel Care
A visit to a travel medicine provider before your trip can help protect you and your children at your destination. Ideally, your family should see a health care provider at least 4-6 weeks before your international trip to get needed vaccines and medicines. Your doctor or nurse will also counsel you on other ways to reduce your family’s risk of illness or injury during travel.

If possible, children should complete their routine childhood vaccines on the normal schedule before traveling overseas. However, some vaccines can also be given on an “accelerated” schedule, meaning doses are given in a shorter period of time. Some travel vaccines cannot be given to very young children, so it’s important to check with a travel medicine doctor, who should consult your child’s pediatrician, as early as possible before travel.

Diarrhea is among the most common illnesses experienced by children who are traveling abroad.

For infants, breastfeeding is the best way to prevent diarrhea. Older children visiting developing countries should follow basic food and water precautions:

  • Eat only food that is cooked and served hot.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that you peeled or washed yourself in clean water.
  • Drink only beverages from sealed containers or water that has been boiled or treated. This includes water used to prepare infant formula.
  • Wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently.

For short trips, you may want to bring a supply of safe snacks from home for times when the children are hungry and the available food may not be appealing or safe.

Diarrhea can be serious in infants and small children because of the risk of dehydration. The best treatment for diarrhea in children is to give plenty of fluids; there is usually no need to give medicine. Keep in mind:

  • Oral rehydration salts (available online or in stores in most developing countries) may be used to prevent dehydration.
  • Over-the-counter drugs that contain bismuth (Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate) should NOT be used in children, and antibiotics are usually reserved for serious cases.
  • Other common treatments for diarrhea, such as loperamide, are not recommended for children younger than 6 years old.

If your child appears to be severely dehydrated, or has a fever or bloody stools, get medical attention immediately.

Malaria and Other Diseases Spread by Bugs
Diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as Zika, chikungunya, malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, are common throughout Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe.

Help your children prevent mosquito bites and use insect repellent:

  • Children should wear insect repellent and long pants and sleeves. Permethrin can be applied to clothes for extra protection.
  • Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • For babies younger than 2 months old, protect them by draping mosquito netting over their carrier or car seat. Netting should have an elastic edge for a tight fit.
  • Do not use repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children younger than 3 years old.
  • At night, children should sleep in screened, air-conditioned rooms or under a bed net.

Malaria is among the most serious and life-threatening infections that can be acquired by children abroad. Children visiting friends and relatives in developing countries may be at higher risk because they are more likely to be in areas where malaria is commonly found.

Children who travel to areas where malaria is present should take medicine to prevent malaria, just like their parents. Your health care provider can tell you which malaria medicine is best for your child. Many of these drugs have a bitter taste, but a pharmacist can crush the capsules and put the powder in a flavorless gelatin capsule. Because of the risk of overdose, malaria drugs should be stored in childproof containers and kept out of the reach of children. Malaria drugs are not 100% effective, and other diseases are also spread by insects, so children (and their parents!) should avoid bug bites, even if they are taking malaria medicine.

Rabies is spread through animal bites or scratches. Although it is rare, rabies is almost always fatal if not treated promptly. Rabies is more common in children than in adults because children are more likely to try to pet strange animals. Tell your children to stay away from all animals, but reassure them that if they do get bitten, they should tell an adult immediately. Any animal bite should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and must receive medical attention as soon as possible.

Road Safety
Car crashes are the leading cause of death in children who travel abroad. In general, children are safest traveling in the back seat, but no one should ever travel in the back of a pickup truck. In many developing countries, cars may lack front or rear seat belts.

When using transportation or renting vehicles in other countries:

  • Make sure there are seat belts and other safety features.
  • Children should always ride in age-appropriate car seats when traveling.
  • Plan to bring car seats because they may not be available in many countries or meet US safety standards.

Drowning and Water-Related Illness and Injuries
Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children who travel abroad. Children should be supervised closely and should always wear a life preserver around water. Children should not swim in fresh, unchlorinated water such as lakes or ponds, because some infections (such as schistosomiasis and leptospirosis) are spread by contact with fresh water.


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Six Essential Travel Tips


Vacations are for reducing stress, not adding to it. Unfortunately, things can happen to make any vacation a stressful experience, no matter how beautiful the locale or destination.

Some things you are not able to control, such as the weather or flight delays. Other things, such as missing documents or stolen credit cards, have the potential to interrupt your fun but do not have to end your vacation if you are prepared.

Before you pack your bags and turn on your email out-of-office message, here are six tips to make your vacation one for the books:

Make Copies of Your ID and Passport:

Make two photocopies of your license or passport in case either is lost or stolen. Bring one copy and store it separately from your original, and leave another with a friend or relative. The U.S. Government also offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. The program permits enrollment with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, which can assist during an emergency such as a lost or stolen passport.

Streamline Your Wallet:

Lost wallets are the leading cause of identity theft. Only carry the card(s) you plan to use on your trip, and leave your checkbook and the rest of your cards at home. If you decide to bring more than one credit card, consider stashing the extra, along with account information and customer service numbers for the cards you have with you, in a hotel safe or other secure location.

Check Out Guides:

Before you book that zip-lining, parasailing or river rafting trip, check online for any customer reviews. Seeing what others have to say about the company and the excursion can help you choose a safe and well-run adventure.

Travel like a Local:

When visiting any location, know your surroundings and plan your route in advance. Be aware of how the locals talk and dress, and consider whether certain actions will make you stand out as a tourist.

Check the Weather:

Into every life—and vacation—a little rain must fall, so take steps to protect yourself from lightning, hail, thunderstorms and severe weather by monitoring the local weather and packing the appropriate gear. Also, keep tabs on the weather at home to make sure your property is protected.

Avoid Oversharing Online:

Posting photos or checking in on social media sites advertises your absence from home. Real-time updates can be tempting, but wait until you return safely home before sharing your adventures.

Take advantage of your time away to decompress and relax by taking a few steps to help avoid potential problems before you travel.

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Traveling with a Disability


An estimated 37.5 million people in the United States have a disability. If you have a disability and are considering international travel, a little advance planning, including a pre-travel visit with a travel medicine specialist, can enable you to see the world and return home safe and healthy.

Pre-Travel Consultation

A travel medicine specialist can help you determine what vaccines and medications you’ll need for your trip and give you advice on preventing diseases spread by insects or through food and water. If you have an immune-compromising condition or take certain medicines, you may not be able to get some vaccines, or additional vaccines may be recommended.

Your travel medicine specialist can also help you arrange to receive care overseas, if you need it. Check with your insurance company to see if they will cover care received outside the United States. If not, consider buying supplemental travel health insurance.

Air Travel

Airlines must make accommodations to give people with disabilities access to the same travel opportunities as people without disabilities, unless doing so would endanger the health or safety of other passengers. Airlines must provide access to the aircraft door, an aisle seat, and a seat with a removable armrest. Airplanes that have fewer than 30 seats are generally exempt from these regulations, but those that have more than 60 seats are required to have a wheelchair on board. Wide-body airplanes with 2 or more aisles must have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.

If you have a seeing-eye dog or other service animal, the airline must allow it to accompany you. However, service animals are subject to quarantine regulations and may not be allowed to travel to all countries. They are also subject to US animal import regulations on return.

These regulations apply to US airlines and to flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines. If you plan to fly within a foreign country or between countries while abroad, check with the foreign airline to find out what accommodations are in place for people with disabilities.

The Department of Transportation has a toll-free hotline for more information about the rights of air travelers with disabilities: 800-778-4838.

Cruise Ships

Cruise ships also have obligations regarding access for travelers with disabilities, but you should check with your cruise line before booking to make sure any needed items, such as medical oxygen or a wheelchair, will be available. Some cruises cater to travelers with special needs, such as dialysis patients.

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