Space Center Houston Is the First Space Center Designated as a 'Certified Autism Center'
Space Center Houston is the first space center in the world designated as a “Certified Autism Center” (CAC) by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).
IBCCES provides training and credentials through their “Certified Autism Specialists, Board Certified Cognitive Specialists and Certified Autism Center.” A representative from IBCCES told The Mighty all their programs are research-based, and their board includes two professionals who are on the autism spectrum (Dr. Stephen Shore and Kerry Magro), as well as neurologists and psychologists — one of whom is also the parent of a child with Down syndrome — and other experts. “We work hard to ensure our programs are well rounded, evidence-based, practical and inclusive,” the rep said. The programs originated almost 18 years ago and are available in all 50 states and 42 different countries.
On June 25, Space Center Houston announced in conjunction with IBCCESS, the completion of a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training, making it the first space center in the world to receive such a distinction.
William T. Harris, the center’s president and CEO said in an article published on the IBCCES website, “Science, technology, engineering and mathematics education is for everyone.” He said the certification highlights the center’s dedication to be inclusive and to, “inspire the next generation of problem solvers.”
Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman, said they were thrilled to work with Space Center Houston, stating the center has gone, “above and beyond to show its commitment to serving those on the spectrum and what they offer is so important for those individuals.”
Space Center Houston has been recognized as a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and…
“This is who we are,” Harris said, “We are a values-based organization and we’ve incorporated accessibility and inclusion into the very fabric of Space Center Houston as part of our way forward.”
In 2016, the center hired Stephanie McMahon, a special education certified teacher and the mother of a child on the autism spectrum, as a senior lead instructor in its Education Department. McMahon was appointed as their accessibility and inclusion coordinator in 2017.
To keep their certification, the center must take the autism training every two years.
Space Center Houston will now offer “Sensory Friendly Evenings,” with reduced lights, sounds and crowds. Space Center University is designed for the visually impaired. Other events will be designed to provide quality learning experiences for guests with disabilities. The center developed the “Stellar Explorer Guide” to help individuals and school groups prepare guests with autism for an upcoming visit and “Vocabulary Cards” for nonverbal guests to help with transitions and timelines.
IBCCES has now created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center requirements, which include extensive staff training and an on-site audit conducted by leading autism experts.
Banner image via Space center Houston facebook page.