SeaWorld's Aquatica Orlando Becomes the World’s First Certified Autism-Friendly Water Park

iStock.com/Image Source
iStock.com/Image Source

Water parks are filled with splashing, screaming, and fast rides—all potential triggers for autistic guests prone to sensory overload. This problem is baked into the design of most water parks, but as the Orlando Sentinel reports, SeaWorld's Aquatica Orlando park in Florida is taking steps toward being more inclusive of guests across the autism spectrum. It is officially the first park of its kind to be designated a Certified Autism Center (CAC) by the International Board of Credentialling and Continuing Education Standards.

After arriving at the park, groups can plan their day using an autism-friendly guide that rates how much each ride stimulates the five senses. A water slide with lots of hills and turns ranks high on the touch scale, for example, and a colorful playground area ranks high on the sight scale.

If guests ever decide they need a break from the excitement of the day, they can retreat to a quiet zone with dimmable lights and comfortable seats. Aquatica staff members have also been trained to serve the needs of park guests with autism.

Families may be hesitant to take kids with autism to loud, overstimulating places like pools and water parks, but giving them those experiences early in life can be valuable. Between 2009 and 2011 in the U.S., accidental drowning was the cause of 90 percent of deaths for children with autism spectrum disorder under age 14. Gary Weitzen, executive director of POAC Autism Services, told Aquatics International in 2016 that "Getting them exposed to water, teaching them to swim, and showing them the proper way to act in a pool literally can be lifesaving for these children."

Aquatica Orlando is just the latest family attraction to receive the CAC stamp of approval. In April of last year, Sesame Place in Pennsylvania reopened for the season as the first-ever theme park to double as a Certified Autism Center.

[h/t Orlando Sentinel]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Wisconsin Corn Maze Highlights the Tardigrade—"The World's Most Resilient Animal"

Treinen Farm
Treinen Farm

On some farms, designing a corn maze is a chance to create larger-than-life art. There have been mazes modeled after flags, dinosaurs, and video game characters—but this tardigrade corn maze, spotted by Atlas Obscura, may be a first.

Tardigrades—also called "moss piglets" or "water bears"—are microscopic organisms that thrive in a variety of environments around the world. Real tardigrades are too small to see with the naked eye, but that's certainly not the case with the tardigrade maze at Treinen Farm; from the air, it's impossible to miss.

Angie Treinen owns the Wisconsin farm with her husband, and she was inspired to design a maze in the image of the tardigrade after learning about them at a science event a few years ago. Like much of the internet, she was instantly smitten with their stubby legs and roly-poly bodies. They also turned out to be the perfect mascot for 2020; water bears are some of the most resilient creatures on Earth, surviving in tundras, at the bottom of the ocean, and even in space.

"I think I stumbled upon the idea to do a tardigrade pretty early on, but I rejected it for a long time," Angie wrote on the farm's website. "As a huge nerd, I’d seen water bears at an event at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and I thought they were fascinating and amazing and exactly what we needed: tiny, adorable, unbelievably tough."

The tardigrade corn maze took 120 to 150 hours to cut and covers 15 acres. Guests can experience the maze in person at Treinen Farm now through November 8, 2020.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]