Mum Stella and Pok Pok at the launch of Water World Ocean Park as an autism-friendly destination.
Hong Kong’s Water World Ocean Park has become the first autism-certified water park in Asia.
Ocean Park invited the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to assess its facilities and following recommendations, the attraction is now ready to welcome families with sensory sensitivities.
Autustic and sensory-sensitive children don’t react well to change and their families often find it challenging to visit entertainment centres. As part of the certification process, IBCCES has provided Water World Ocean with a comprehensive set of sensory guides that rate the level of stimulation of its facilities on a scale from one to ten. This means that guests can tailor their visit and experience the park in a more secure and predictable way.
Ocean Park Corporation chief executive Ivan Wong recognised that while socialisation is a critical part of growing up for children, those on the autistic spectrum often find it an intimidating process.
“At the same time, their caregivers also experience stress when they cannot address their children’s socialisation needs,” he said. “So, we invited IBCCES to assess our facilities and provide expert recommendations and staff training to make Water World an inclusive space for all families.”
According to psychologist Victor Ching, autistic children need help to adapt to a new environment progressively.
Understanding of sensory stimulation
“Stimulation from the environment is critical for children’s development because they acquire knowledge about the world through different senses. However, some autistic individuals could be oversensitive to the environment,” he said.
Thanks to the sensory guides, which are available to access at various locations at Water World, parents and caregivers have access to important information such as noise levels and crowding. Information is also available on the park’s website for guests to comfortably prepare for their visit.
Staff have been trained to understand the specific needs of sensory-sensitive guests, making it easier for park visitors to make special enquiries or to ask for help.
IBCCES says it looks forward to working with Water World as it “continues its accessibility journey.”
Visitors can enjoy a ten percent discount by heading to the Water World website to buy admission tickets before August 31 using the coupon code ‘waterfun’. Discount tickets are valid for use until September 30.
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