A hotel in Canada recently opened its doors to families traveling with children with autism. The owner of Hotel Port Aux Basques, found in the coastal town of Newfoundland, wanted her guests to feel at ease and at home away from home so she and her staff made a few but significant changes.
A special education teacher inspired Cathy Lomond to create an autism-friendly hotel facility. Joan Chaisson talked to Lomond about some of the challenges of traveling with children with autism and Lomond empathized because she has a sister with special needs, as per Huffington Post.
"I was reared up in an environment of the rewards of being involved with special needs individuals," Lomond said, adding her sister, who has Down syndrome is now 51-years-old. Lomond said special needs people are still part of society, only they are not accorded enough opportunities and privileges.
At Lomond's hotel, children with autism can enjoy any of its 50 rooms featured with murals for sensory enhancements and security proofing to free up potential hazards. The hotel's menu is filled with food photos for children with autism who cannot articulate. There's also a sensory playroom with a hammock, a swing and a wall for climbing, as per Essential Kids.
Lomond's sensory playroom was originally the hotel gym that became under-utilized and neglected. So, the hotel owner turned it into a bright, homey and secure place for kids with autism.
Hotel Port Aux Basques' staff, from the front lines and servers to the chefs, underwent training on how to treat people with autism and special needs kids. Chaisson's group Autism Involves Me (AIM) helped Lomond transform her hotel and train the staff, as per Gulf News.
Traveling with children is a big challenge as it is and its worst for families with children with autism. They often feel disadvantaged and discouraged about the lack of options.
Lomond, Chaisson and the AIM group hope that by having an autism-friendly hotel, these families will consider traveling more. They also hope other hotels will do the same thing and offer amenities perfect for kids with special needs.