SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) -The Southport Maritime Museum has been named the first Certified Autism Center in North Carolina.
“We found out about it online," said Katy Menne, the museum’s curator of education. "We’ve done a lot of inclusion classes and programs and working with all abilities of people and ages. We found it, and we thought it would be a good fit and as we were going through the process is when we realized no one in North Carolina had this certificate or distinction and we were like ‘okay, we really need to do this now.’”
Staff and volunteers have been trained, according to the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, to get this certification.
“The key thing we are trying to push forward with this is that we want all people to come. We don’t care how old you are, what you look like what you’re able to do or what you feel like you can’t do, we’re going to help you,” said Menne.
The museum had already been making their exhibits easily accessible but are making more changes to make sure all guests are comfortable.
“We are putting inclusion and accessibility much earlier in the process of planning instead of it being an after-thought. When we do plan exhibits, we are trying to think of how we can make things better. We’ll sit on the ground, well grab our wheelchair, well walk a bunch and stand and ask do I still want to be standing here?”
The museum doesn’t plan to add any new programs, but all of the public programs will have a line on written them, stating ‘all ages and abilities welcome.' It will also show where calm down, or quiet spaces are.
The museum will continue every week with Sensory Saturday.