By Libby Hopkins

To make fun and learning even more open to all families in Tampa Bay, the area’s leader in hands-on science learning is teaming up with the community’s largest provider of Autism Spectrum Disorder analysis and care.

The partnership between the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) and Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay (BCOTB) is the first of its kind for either organization.

“At MOSI, our core ideology is to make science real for people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Grayson Kamm, MOSI’s communications director. “Accessibility and inclusiveness is at the heart of what we are all about. So as we look at ways to eliminate any barriers to accessibility that we have unintentionally created, it’s a perfect fit to have a partnership that helps us understand the best ways to serve families who have members with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

Working under the motto “partnering toward a more autism accessible experience,” the collaboration will lead to more vital science and math education for a wider range of students in the Brandon and Tampa Bay area, richer and more fulfilling time together for families that include children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and guidelines for other museums and businesses that are looking to create a more inclusive experience.

“This is a fantastic way to take the expertise BCOTB has developed by working one-on-one with families since 2003 and bring it out into the Tampa Bay community,” BCOTB President and Founder Kelley Prince said. “Our families are always searching for places where they can spend time together that will be supportive of their needs and won’t overwhelm them. We’re excited to help MOSI take that to the next level.”

BCOTB and MOSI have already performed a thorough assessment of the science center. Some potential changes identified in the study include revising maps and signs to clearly show families what kinds of sensory information (lights, sounds, etc.) to expect in certain areas and rearranging some exhibits to allow families to bypass sections they may find overwhelming. “Some changes will come more quickly than others,” Kamm said.

To learn more about BCOTB, visit www.bcotb.com or call their Brandon location at 440-4933. BCOTB Brandon office is located at 9225 Bay Plaza Blvd. Ste. 401. Learn more about MOSI at www.mosi.org. MOSI is located at 4801 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa.