SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona is now home to an attraction that has been internationally recognized as a center specifically designed for children with autism. Odysea Aquarium off the Loop 101 near Scottsdale is the first Certified Autism Center here in the Valley, and that's great for tourists and locals alike.
Jessica Peranteau with the aquarium described what calming qualities qualify a facility for certification.
"You can go through our aquarium at your own pace. You can dwell for a time if you feel very comfortable at an exhibit, or you can move on. We also provide a quiet room for families, so if anyone needs a break, just let a staff member know so we can get that family off the floor so they can reset," she said.
Staff members underwent critical training and testing to ensure the best experience for all visitors.
"We can identify families and then also assist with any needs that they may have, but calling ahead is also a great option," she said.
Peranteau said this unique certification allows Odysea Aquarium the chance to expand their existing mission.
"This is a big step for us because it means we are extending our educational experience with our guests and we are extending that to everybody we are all-inclusive," she said.
There are 65 serene and soothing exhibits for guests and plenty of adjustments that can be made if necessary in order to accommodate guests.
"Our lighting was adjusted, our music was adjusted, our exhibits—we interpreted them a little bit differently," Peranteau said.
In the past, the certification has been specific to health and education. Odysea Aquarium is the first tourism focused facility in Arizona to be accredited.