Making LEGOLAND® Florida Resort more welcoming to guests with autism spectrum disorders has required the teamwork of multiple departments over the past year, which is why our “Hero Action Team” is comprised of Model Citizens from many different areas.
Over the past year, a team made up of representatives from many different LEGOLAND Florida Resort departments has been working together to make the resort more enjoyable for guests on the autism spectrum.
During Autism Awareness Month in April, we’ll offer a glimpse at the personal commitments made by many of our leaders to create a more inclusive environment for everyone.
“No child or person should feel as if they cannot do something due to any disability they may have,” said Nick Parham, a member of the resort’s Education team. “I’m extremely passionate about creating an environment that reaches out to all people, no matter the circumstances.”
Amanda Becerra, a manager within Food & Beverage Operations, agrees.
“I really love the opportunity for families to be able to enjoy their vacation knowing that their child is going to feel safe, and most importantly, have fun,” she said.
Creating an environment that’s both safe and fun starts with the orientation program every new Model Citizen attends, explained Adriana Eraso, who leads the resort’s Admissions team.
“We have department-specific training that provides information about how to interact with guests on the autism spectrum,” she said, adding that the resort’s HR department also devotes a portion of training for all new hires that helps them better recognize and understand the unique needs of those guests and their families.
Within the Public Safety department, Security supervisor Benjamin Peacock has implemented bi-weekly meetings and monthly updates so that his team will better understand guests on the autism spectrum and the challenges theme parks often present for their enjoyment.
Addressing those challenges led to the creation of “social stories,” illustrated, step-by-guides to attractions and shows that prepare LEGOLAND guests for what to expect, whether it be periods of darkness, loud noises or other elements that can be frightening or overwhelming.
“As a department, my team has worked very hard to meticulously create every social story for the park,” said Haley Travis, a coordinator within Training and Development, “as well as a quick reference guide that explains what each ride and show has to offer.” The goal, she explained, was to help families more efficiently plan their day.
“We continuously teach our team to, above all, be patient with each guest and treat everyone with the respect they deserve,” she said.