SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Odysea is now the first autism certified aquarium in Arizona. The facility gives the best possible experience for children with autism or sensory disabilities.
"Our team went through vigorous training to understand kids on [the] spectrum," said Greg Charbeneau, GM of Odysea Aquarium. "Becoming IBECCES certified is important for us because it allows families to understand that we are autism aware."
Popular areas like Tidal Touch, Sting Ray Shores, and SeaTrek Experience give parents and caretakers a quiet, inclusive space so any child with a special gift can have a great time.
"Right behind me is our Tidal Touch pool and this is where you can touch invertebrates from the Pacific Northwest. The water is a little chilly but nonetheless, you can touch them, and they're soft and friendly and you can really have an immersive experience with them," explained Charbeneau.
Guests can also take a break and escape to sensory areas like the quiet rooms -- a little downtime.
"They can come and relax here and have a quiet space. Maybe sit in the bean bag chair, touch some of the things we have over here that the kids like to interact with. It really allows everyone to decompress," said Charbeneau.
Odysea says the Autism certification comes as a positive step in the right direction towards making all guests comfortable while experiencing the magic of the aquarium.
"Not only for the children but for the parents and the caretakers because sometimes it's very, very stressful for them, and they want their child or loved one to be able to calm down and relax so they can continue to have a good time."
Located in OdySea in the Desert
Loop 101 & E. Via de Ventura
9500 E. Via De Ventura
Scottsdale, AZ 85256