We were delighted to recently be featured in easypeazyfamilybreaks.com list of Autism Aware Irish hotels.
Planning family holidays tend to be a military operation at the best of times, but when you are travelling with children with autism things can get even more complicated. Holidays should be fun and relaxing, but when travelling with a child on the autism spectrum, it can become a very stressful experience. They can feel anxious about everything, from the general unknown to their new accommodation and environment, new food, new people and much more. However, in recent years we have seen a move within the tourism industry to become more ASD friendly, offering a safe environment for children with autism, and it is a potential game-changer for these families.
Our ASD Awareness Story
In 2019, Cork International Hotel joined forces with The Rainbow Club, Cork to achieve several key goals to train staff, develop social stories, introduce autism-friendly sensory tools and toys and develop a sensory activity specific to the hotel. In return, Cork International Hotel became a key fundraising partner for the charity, donating all the profits of their annual Cork International Car Show as well as proceeds from several other in-house events to the charity. This partnership is continuing for 2020.
Check out some of our initiatives here:
Every few months, the team undergo training with the charity to better improves their understanding of autism and how to work with guests and their families. We learn vital communication skills, how to use sensory toys and the effects of other stimuli, we learn to develop visual aids and other supports and we learn about routines and other preparation tools that may be helpful for guests with autism, These are just a few of the skills our staff learn during the training. We ask our trained team members to wear their autism badge so that they can be easily identified by customers in the hotel.
Online Visual Aid Preparation
We know that when a person with autism travels, either alone or with family, it can often be a source of much stress. They are breaking their usual routine and routine is very important for people with autism. It can be difficult for them to know what to expect, this in turn can increase their levels of anxiety. This can be managed by careful preparation. We have created an online hub where guests can access our visual aids, or ‘stories’ which include images of their room, the restaurant and the hotel facilities, before their stay.
We also have a list of all room types in our ‘rooms’ section which clearly outlines a list of what they will be provided with in their hotel room. Our aim is to help the person get a visual picture of the hotel environment.
For our regular customers with autism we are happy to notify them of any changes in the hotel since their last visit to help them prepare. Alternatively, if any guest would like assistance making their own visual aid prior to a visit, our reception team can be contacted at any time.
Sensory Treasure Box
Hotels can be very difficult sensory environments for people with autism. Many people with autism can struggle with sensory integration; this means the 5 senses can, at any given time, be over or under-stimulated. We have introduced sensory boxes to help guests with autism to engage their senses and to relax. A Sensory Box is a container filled with any kind of tactile material that kids explore with their hands. With a Sensory Box, children are using their sight, touch and smell to experience their environment in a totally new way. It’s a great way for children to engage their senses and to relax in a new environment. These boxes are made available to guests on arrival, both for overnight guests as well as those just visiting the restaurant or attending a private event in the hotel.
The Cork International Hotel is one of Cork’s top family hotels, with spacious family rooms, kid’s playroom, cinema room and conveniently located right next to Cork Airport, 10 minutes’ drive from Cork City Centre. As such, we have a very close working relationship with the team in the Airport and we are working to support their Sunflower Lanyard initiative. The Sunflower Lanyard acts as a discreet sign that the wearer (or somebody who is with them) has a hidden disability and requires additional assistance. The lanyards are made available to passengers coming through Cork Airport and the team at Cork International Hotel are trained to recognise these lanyards and lend additional support to guests where it is required. If you are staying with the team on a Stay, Park & Fly package before flying through the airport, we would be happy to ring ahead for you and check lanyards are available OCS desk in the airport terminal.
As all persons who have experienced ASD will know, Autism is individual to every person. No two people will have the same world experience. As such, we are always open to feedback to better improve our services and make them more accessible to others. If you have any constructive feedback for us, or if you would like to make an enquiry or request before your visit, please contact our reception team.
Call: + 353 21 454 9800