A hotel in Newfoundland has become the first in Canada to specifically cater to families with children on the autism spectrum.
Located in the town of Channel-Port aux Basques on the extreme southwestern tip of Newfoundland, Hotel Port aux Basques now has a suite that has been modified to be safer for children with autism, as well as a sensory room that provides a quiet, welcoming environment to help children who may have trouble adjusting to unfamiliar surroundings.
“It wasn’t that much of a difficulty or expensive thing to do to make the changes in the rooms,” Cathy Lomond, the hotel’s owner, told NTV News. “Just having the additional changes in the rooms will make that much difference to the reservations.”
The refurbished suite features extra locks to prevent children from running away while objects that could be thrown during tantrums are now secured. The hotel is also promising to cater to particular food requirements. But it’s the sensory room that is drawing the most praise.
“The sensory room is so important,” Joan Chaisson, the founder of Autism Involves Me, an organization that helps families impacted by autism, told NTV News. “For children who have autism, they need to be able to go somewhere that they can destress.”
The challenges and stresses of travelling with a child who has autism can cause some families to avoid overnight excursions altogether. For parents like Candace Matthews who have children on the autism spectrum, the Hotel Port aux Basques’ new autism-friendly accommodation options open up a whole new world of possibilities.
“It’s a very stressful time travelling with a child on the spectrum,” Matthews told NTV News. “They’re not going to be able to think of everything -- it’s going to be a learning process -- but the fact that they are putting themselves out there, they’re asking the questions that need to be asked, and they’re opening themselves up to being able to accommodate families in an individual way.”
With files from NTV News