Jessica Medlen - Guest Blogger: Assistant General Manager of Guest Experience
In 2008, Conner Prairie partnered with Applied Behavioral Center for Autism (ABC) to help our staff understand how guests with Autism communicate and engage. This was a win-win situation. ABC helped us understand Autism and worked with us to train our staff. Conner Prairie helped socialize ABC students and engaged them in a nurturing rich environment catered to their needs.
One of the biggest challenges was helping our staff recognize these special guests since Autism covers such a large spectrum. We focused on the main signs of Autism. These include verbal and nonverbal communication, social behaviors, such as emotions and empathy and stereotyped behaviors concerning objects and routines.
We found our staff was enthusiastic and felt empowered. We also saw a positive response from the community. Guests were very appreciative of having a family destination where they and their needs were understood. I continuously receive phone calls and e-mails thanking Conner Prairie for our support and for providing an environment that is welcoming and accepting of this exceptional group.
As we look towards an exciting future we aim to make every guest’s experience extraordinary. We stay true to our mission and our goals by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences for all guests, including those with special needs.
If you would like more information on Conner Prairie’s Autism training materials please contact me at Medlen@connerprairie.org.
As Conner Prairie Interactive History Park continues to prepare for the grand opening of the 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana, follow along with the fictitious reporter Wilson Mayweather as he gives a perspective on the events of the only Civil War battle to take place on Indiana soil. This reporter and story is fictitious; representing an amalgamation of historical facts.
Stay tuned for Reporter Mayweather’s next story from the front lines.