The Town of Queen Creek strives to accommodate all residents and visitors, and in an effort to enrich opportunities for individuals and families with autism, the Parks and Recreation Department recently completed a training and certification program through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). The designation of Certified Autism Center (CAC) helps create a more inclusive environment in community spaces. As part of the certification process, IBCCES also reviewed key parks and community resources and has provided observations and sensory guides (available below) for visitors and residents to the area.
Becoming a CAC is just one way Queen Creek is working to expand opportunities for people of all abilities. Queen Creek’s newest park, Mansel Carter Oasis Park, includes inclusive-focused play equipment. Through a partnership with Banner Ironwood Medical Center, the entire area has poured rubber surfacing, including the sand play area, allowing people of various abilities to play alongside one another. The park also includes signage highlighting the importance of play for the health and wellbeing of the community, which is further supported through the CAC designation.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 59 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, and the diagnosis rates have risen in past years.
Parents with children on the autism spectrum often struggle when looking for recreational options, due to specific needs and sensory sensitivities, as well as a lack of information on places they want to visit or activities they want to engage in. IBCCES recognized these limitations and created certification programs specifically designed to help recreational and travel related organizations understand how to be more welcoming and accommodating. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism and cognitive disorder training and certification, working with education, healthcare and corporate professionals to ultimately improve the quality of life for individuals with these disorders.
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center (CAC) requirements.
To review the facility observations and sensory guides please use the drop down menu below.
It was noted in the Recreation Center that there are many different types of classes offered for guests of all ages, including dance, cheer, music, and other workshops, as well as special events such as dances. There is also a pre-school option for which contract instructors are used.
Colors are generally soothing in the recreation annex and areas with natural lighting are appealing. There are some areas with brighter colors featured and LED or fluorescent overhead lighting.
Most walkways are smooth and clear, and easy to navigate. There were not many handrails or supportive items for individuals with those needs. Parking was available, but there was no special parking for individuals with cognitive disorders, other than required handicapped parking.
There was a low level of noise throughout the recreation building but was not overwhelming during our visit.
The library was welcoming but was more brightly colored in general and does feature areas where individuals could be visually overstimulated, such as the themed play areas for younger children, brightly colored carpeting, and colored glass on study room walls.
There is opportunity for sensory play on playground equipment, sandy dig areas, and recreational courts/fields. Entire area is quite open and receives a lot of natural sunlight. Colors are soothing and tend toward more natural hues, so are not overstimulating for individuals with this sensitivity.
Pathways are paved and other areas are covered in grass, sand or mulch. Playground areas are covered by awnings and picnic/seating areas are covered as well. Pathways are easy to navigate and most areas are relatively flat, but there is a lack of handrails or other options for individuals who may have difficulty.
There were no family restrooms noted, although there are restrooms onsite.
Play Structure - Age 2-5
Play Structure - Age 5-12
The park features multipurpose fields, sports fields, as well as a large splashpad and smaller playground areas.
Pathways are clear and easy to navigate – play areas feature grass or mulch. There is an abundance of natural lighting as well as options for shaded areas, although little opportunity for individuals to move indoors if needed. No family restrooms were noted.
The large splash pad is enclosed with fencing and features shaded areas, seating and tables for parents or caregivers to supervise. Colors are bright and engaging, and area features a large dump buckets and multiple interactive features.
Playground - Age 5-12
Pathways are generally smooth although most areas did not feature handrails for individuals needing this type of assistance. Some of the play areas slope and could be hard to navigate or walk on without losing your balance or stumbling for individuals with sensory difficulties in this area.
Walking areas are smooth and paved, with many play surfaces being delineated from walking paths with a bouncy rubber walking surface or grass. The bouncy rubber areas are stimulating for sensory play but safe and not overwhelming, so this is a nice feature for guests, particularly children, who seek out that type of stimulation without causing concerns for those who may not be especially attracted to those interactions.
There are many areas that are protected from the sun by shade coverings or roofed pavilions, although there are few areas shaded by natural structures such as tree cover. There are also quieter areas near water and family picnic areas, which are great options for individuals who may need a break from the more crowded or stimulating areas of the park.
There is an abundance of natural lighting as well as options for shaded areas, although little opportunity for individuals to move indoors if needed. Colors are bright and engaging but mix well with the natural surroundings. Some areas could be visually overstimulating, but individuals can move from area to area freely and play at their own pace.
Family restrooms are available, which is a great option, particularly for families with older children or adults on the spectrum who may need assistance with toileting. There was one restroom noted with a bench that could be used as an adult changing area, but recommend considering adding more options with this feature.
Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are the only training and certification programs endorsed by the largest grassroots autism organization in the world, The Autism Society of America, and recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.