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Mesa Chamber 1st in world to earn autism certification

Tribune - 5/22/2019

May 21-- May 21--The Mesa Chamber of Commerce is officially the first chamber in the world to earn its autism certification.

The Chamber -- whose mission is to improve, promote and advocate for businesses in Mesa -- was recently designated as a Certified Autism Center by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

In order to receive this title, its staff underwent online training to learn more about how to better serve individuals on the spectrum.

The organization is now encouraging other businesses in the city to follow suit as part of a larger community effort to ensure that corporate, educational and entertainment options are available for those who have the sensory disorder.

"We're known as a community that cares and we want to be inclusive -- this is part of it," said Chamber President/CEO Sally Harrison. "We just want to open doors and make introductions so that they [other businesses] can get the information they need and understand the ins and outs of how to get certified."

Last week, the Chamber hosted a presentation in partnership with IBCCES -- which has been spearheading autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the world -- where Board Chairman and CEO Myron Pincomb spoke about the prevalence of autism in the country and how businesses can go about getting certified.

The guest list included members from Mesa Sports Association, Inc., Mesa Community College, Spanish Media & Translation Services, LLC, Dave Bang Associates and law enforcement.

Pincomb explained to the audience that individuals don't "outgrow" autism, making it the community's responsibility to embrace them in all stages of life.

According to a recent study from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute in Philadelphia, about 40 percent of adults on the spectrum do not find employment or continue their education after high school.

Businesses that are trained to welcome these candidates can reap the benefits of their skills and talents, said Pincomb, while also improving the community in a positive way.

"Many businesses don't understand the value of what they [those diagnosed with autism] have to offer," he said. "One of the big things we can help you with is teaching your management team how to manages these individuals and recruit them. It's about creating a community that educates them during their younger years and employs them later on in life."

The CEO went on to explain that autism is the fastest growing disability in the nation, and that many individuals who have the disorder have talents and skills that are high in demand -- such as pattern and error recognition, strong attention to detail and a direct communication style.

He added that the IBCCES and Chamber partnership aims to meet the needs of those with autism head on while also creating a more dynamic workforce and thriving business community.

The certification process varies for different businesses, according to the IBCCES website, but generally involves online courses and training followed by a review process.

The amount of hours an employee will spend on an online course will also depend on the type of position they hold.

Visit Mesa kick-started the initiative in Mesa earlier this month, become the first destination marketing organization to receive the credentials.

Tourism agency President/CEO Marc Garcia previously told the East Valley Tribune that the goal is to get as many businesses and agencies in Mesa on board as soon as possible.

"I knew that when I wanted to do this, I wanted it to be substantive. I wanted it to be meaningful and I wanted it to have teeth," he said.

Once 60 businesses get certified, the city can then be considered an autism certified "travel destination," he said.


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