ROYAL OAK — The Detroit Zoo is taking another step in its effort to accommodate diverse audiences by offering a visual guide for guests with autism. The online guide, which helps set expectations for animal habitats, rides, attractions, and other experiences at the Zoo — was prepared in collaboration with the Autism Alliance of Michigan.
The 31-page downloadable guide, called “The Zoo and Autism,” provides information about the Detroit Zoo experience along with pictures and fun facts. The narrative also advises individuals with autism about certain characteristics of the habitats and attractions that might concern them – for example, unfamiliar sights and sounds or proximity to free-ranging animals – and provides guidance on how to respond.
According to Stacie Rulison, secretary of the Michigan Autism Council and author of the guide, the images that accompany the narrative are intended to reinforce the visual learning aspect of individuals with autism.
In addition to the visual guide, all full- and part-time Detroit Zoo staff and seasonal employees as well as 90 individuals from 32 local public safety and social services agencies attended Michigan Autism Safety Training at the Zoo. The training covered the do’s and dont’s of working with guests with autism as well as tips on how to assist the guests’ caregivers.
To download the visual guide and view other special-needs accommodations at the Detroit Zoo, visit detroitzoo.org/Plan/special-needs.html.