Mesa Continues Commitment to Autism Certified City Initiative

Since becoming Certified Autism Centers™ (CAC) in 2019, Arizona Museum of Natural History, i.d.e.a. Museum, Mesa Arts Center, Mesa Public Library’s Dobson Ranch branch and Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities are important partners in maintaining Mesa’s designation as an Autism Certified City. Recently, these arts and cultural centers renewed their commitment to meeting the CAC standards, designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, which require staff to complete a training and certification program to better understand and welcome guests and their families who are autistic or sensory-sensitive.

“The Mesa Department of Arts and Culture is devoted to continuously improving the accessibility and inclusiveness of our facilities and programs,” said Cindy Ornstein, director of Arts and Culture for the City of Mesa. “To this end, making our organizations as open and welcoming to those on the autism spectrum is very important to us, and we are extremely proud to achieve our recertification as autism-friendly institutions.”

All Mesa Arts and Culture organizations have designated sensory rooms, provide visitors sensory bags upon request, utilize social stories, offer virtual tours and participate in the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program — providing discreet support to guests with disabilities that may not be apparent. Additionally, Arizona Museum of Natural History offers noise-canceling headphones and light-sensitivity glasses, and along with i.d.e.a. Museum, has implemented sensory guides and sensory gentle hours. Mesa Arts Center recently added larger designated sensory spaces for festivals to accommodate more guests.

Dobson Ranch Library incorporates the IBCCES ideals into story times and events to deliver a positive experience for visiting families and individuals with sensory needs. Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities provide a range of inclusive activities such as weekly sports, special interest classes, social events and summer camps for people with developmental disabilities.

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About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media. She is Principal of Julie Coleman Consulting, providing strategic philanthropy consulting services for individuals, families, businesses, foundations and nonprofit organizations.
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