NOLA aquarium and zoo certified "sensory inclusive" for people with autism

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NEW ORLEANS (Associated Press) - A nonprofit organization that helps open doors for people with autism has certified the aquarium and zoo in New Orleans as "sensory inclusive."

Alabama-based KultureCity says the Aquarium of the Americas is the first aquarium to get such certification, and the Audubon Zoo is among the first 10 zoos.

Both attractions now offer "sensory bags" with "VIP" lanyards, noise-canceling headphones and other items. They also have signs designating "quiet zones" for people who need a place to calm down.

Staff and volunteers have been trained to respond to visitors with sensory processing needs. KultureCity cofounder and CEO Julian Maha says that can include people with many other conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and Down syndrome.

New website features help guests plan their visits and know what to expect.