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Mesa makes history with autism certification

Posted at 4:57 AM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 21:15:26-05

MESA, AZ — Mesa leaders are making a big announcement Monday morning regarding autism certification.

Visit Mesa recently became the country's first-ever destination marketing organization to get autism certification. The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) awarded the certification. The board makes sure agencies are addressing the needs of people with cognitive disorders.

To get the autism certification, Visit Mesa staff completed awareness and sensitivity training. Leaders say it's part of the city's mission to show families that Mesa is dedicated to serving people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Other agencies--including Parks, Recreation & Communities Facilities and the Chamber of Commerce--also got certified.

"To see all these different industries that represent various facets of our community come together and support autism, it's truly exciting," said Marc Heirshberg with Mesa Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities.

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the world. According to the CDC, one out of 59 children in the United States have autism.

"This is a very large consumer-base that we want to get in front of, and I think Mesa has a tremendous opportunity to do this. Mesa really is the perfect place for something like this," said Marc Garcia, the president and CEO of Visit Mesa.

According to IBCCES, 32 million people with special needs travel for vacations each year, and more than $262 billion is spent on autism-related services in the United States each year.

"Becoming certified as an autism friendly will raise our profile when it comes to recruiting visitors to Mesa," said Mayor John Giles.

According to Visit Mesa’s website, autism certification will establish Visit Mesa Partner businesses as CAC’s–Certified Autism Centers, and position Mesa, Arizona as the first-ever CAD–Certified Autism Destination.

To learn more about becoming autism certified, click here.

The announcement is scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m. at the Ikeda Theater inside the Mesa Arts Center.