City of Palm Desert logoThe City of Palm Desert has proudly become the first city in California to be awarded the Certified Autism Center™ designation by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This notable achievement underscores Palm Desert’s commitment to autism and neurodiversity training, enhancing its capability to interact with and serve its community and employees more effectively.

This initiative is vital, with 1 in 36 children in the US diagnosed with autism (CDC), 1 in 6 people having sensory needs or sensitivities, and 15-20% of the world’s population being neurodivergent. These figures emphasize the need for an increased effort to better support this significant portion of the population.

“This designation reflects Palm Desert’s dedication to creating a city that embraces the unique strengths and perspectives of every individual, ensuring that all residents and visitors, regardless of cognitive differences, feel valued and supported,” remarked Palm Desert Mayor Karina Quintanilla. “Families can now feel understood instead of uncomfortable while tending to the needs of their loved ones. Together, we are fostering an environment where everyone can thrive, and our collective efforts highlight the power of unity in building a truly inclusive community.”

The certification is part of a broader initiative within the Coachella Valley to promote accessibility and inclusivity as a Certified Autism Destination™ (CAD). This designation is awarded to communities that offer a wide range of trained and certified lodging, recreational and entertainment options accessible and accommodating to autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals and their families. By joining this movement, the City of Palm Desert sets a benchmark for other municipalities to embrace and understand the unique needs and strengths of individuals with cognitive differences.

Myron Pincomb, the IBCCES board chairman, shared, “The City of Palm Desert’s proactive steps in obtaining our certification are commendable. Their commitment to understanding and accommodating the needs of neurodivergent individuals is a powerful statement. They are not only enhancing the experience of their community and workforce but also setting a standard for other city governments. It’s these extra steps that make a real difference in the lives of many.”

The City of Palm Desert is the second municipality in the nation to earn this designation. To achieve certification, training was provided to staff in the city manager’s office, development services, public works, capital projects, finance and economic development.

IBCCES has been a leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for over 20 years, providing expertise and support to organizations aiming to better accommodate and assist neurodivergent individuals and their families. They also offer and, free online resources for families to find certified locations and professionals.