I am currently researching all of the aquariums in all of Tampa Bay. I’m interested in aquariums because we took Kyle pretty recently to the largest aquarium in Tampa Bay.
The Florida Aquarium, located in Tampa, sits in between Port Tampa and Channelside, the shopping mall-like cluster of restaurants and shops.
When we went to the Aquarium in early March, it was so crowded in the animal viewing area where they were going to show the penguins. He was anxious. About the dark, about not being able to see the penguins. Then, another animal handler showed up at the back of the area. We were so glad for that. He got a good look at the penguin she was holding. So that was a plus. As were the two screens that were in the front of the standing-room only theater. But Kyle couldn’t see those easily, he had to be hoisted up by his dad.
He was anxious while visiting some of the other areas, as well. He tried not to be. I could tell. But, he did ask to go back. That made me smile.
It’ll have to wait, though. Even though we’ll be too busy with something else in two weeks there is an upcoming event being held there for special needs kids.
On May 4th, there will be a special event held just for kids with autism and similar sensory issues. The event is a result of the partnership held between the Florida Aquarium and C.A.R.D. USF and is called “A Day of Discovery.” C.A.R.D. is the Center for Autism And Related Disorders, and is
From the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., special activities and animal interactions are planned just for our kids.
This will be beneficial to all of these kids, because they won’t have to be jostled in a crowd in order to see the animals, in addition to reducing their stress levels because of the reduction of the noise level. As we know, kids with Autism Spectrum are very sensitive to sounds.
While the event ends at 9:30, guests of the Day of Discovery event are invited to extend their stay afterwards, and attend any part of the Aquarium, including the water park, Explore a Shore. This splash zone is a zero-depth water park and play area.
Admission for the event is $5 before, and $8 at the door. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time by calling 813-273-4000, ext. 4255.
In addition, you can prepare your child in advance for their trip by visiting their website and showing them pictures of what the building looks like, and some of the animals. I did that, even though he’d been there before. It’s still a good idea to do that, to lessen anxiety about knowing where he’s going.
But, there’s more on their website than I noticed before.
On the Explore the Aquarium section of their website, www.flaquarium.org, the Aquarium has an Accessibility page that includes information for those with autism. There are social stories (wish I’d known that!).
One is a booklet and is called “A Visit to The Florida Aquarium.” It’s got a lot of information about what to expect while visiting the exhibits, and even explains to the child how to ask for things he or she needs. Then there are four social stories for specific areas and tours the Aquarium provides.
Wow, when we do go back, we’ll have to use these.