FAQ

Who attends IDC?
Our programs are specialized for children age 3 and over with a wide range of disabilities. Our programs have been in existence since 1997 and our experienced instructors have worked with children with developmental disorders, critical and terminal illness and rare disorders.Will IDC work with disabled adults?
Yes, as we can provide a safe program for the participant and the instructor. For more information, please contact our office.

Can my child just come for one day, two days, or three days? Yes we are happy to customize a program that meets your needs. We are now open on weekends too.

How often will siblings be involved in the program?
It is up to each family to discuss their individual goals with the IDC team & also make their wishes known on the application. Our team tailors each program for each participant’s needs.

Do parents go into the water with the children & Dolphins?
One parent swims with the participant in the nature swim on Friday’s . If you wish additional swims for family members or a family swim please let us know.

What does the daily schedule look like? Do parents stay and watch?
Click here for an example of the weekly schedule Parents or guardians are required to stay with their child at all times at the facility. We encourage family participation and hope that family members will learn new ideas & techniques to take home with them to share with therapists & teachers at home.

Do you provide accommodations?
Families do not stay on the premises. Once your child has been accepted to participate in the program and a reservation has been made you will be sent a confirmation packet with information about Key Largo hotels, condominiums & rental options. Certainly you can also check with the Chamber of Commerce website for Key Largo for their recommendations.

What are the closest airports? How will I get there?
Miami International Airport is approximately one hour from Key Largo. Fort Lauderdale International Airport is one hour and 15 minutes from Key Largo. You can rent a car at either airport or use a car service to bring you to Key Largo. If you rent a car make sure to also rent a SUNPASS for tolls. If you choose to use a car service, you can rent a car once you are in Key Largo. Key Largo is a small community that does not offer public transportation. Taxis are available and expensive – to get one you must call and order one by phone.

What populations or diagnoses do you have experience working with?
Island Dolphin Care has been providing programs since 1997. There have been thousands of individuals participating in our programs. Our instructors have extensive experience working with children and adults with developmental disabilities, critical & terminal health issues, as well as extremely rare disorders some such as Angelman syndrome, rett syndrome, san filipo disease, luekodystrophy, tay sachs, chromosome deletions, mitochondrial disorders, Apert syndrome, and TBI.

How much progress will my child make?
Progress made at Island Dolphin Care is a very individual process just as formulating goals for the program. Goals must be realistic to the participant as well as the time spent at IDC. There are some children that will not progress or change – and others that will make outstanding progress. Dolphins do not provide medical miracles. Our instructors are skilled and work very hard to assist each family. They often provide families with new ideas & techniques that they have not tried before. Often this in combination with the motivating and fun filled environment as the catalyst for change to occur. What you can count on is the family having a once in a lifetime experience that is fun packed, builds self-esteem and provides cherished memories.

Why do I need a video as part of the application? What should it include?
The video that is required assists IDC to see how the child functions. It also gives the staff the ability to see that we can provide a safe and fun program for the participant. Often participants look or sound different on paper – this gives the IDC team the opportunity to meet the participant and family. The video enables the team to choose the most appropriate instructor & dolphin for each child as well as to plan the sessions. When making the video include what the child is capable of doing and what they are not capable of doing example: If the child cannot walk show how they get around – do they have special equipment needs? Do they have a motorized wheelchair that they operate independently? How do they communicate their needs? Can they follow simple directions? What are they working on in therapy or school?

What does the program cost?
The program costs $2,200 for a 5-day program. IDC has not increased fees for service since opening in 1997.

Are the dolphins in the ocean or a cement pool?
The dolphins are contained in a natural ocean lagoon. The lagoon is located on a residential canal that opens to the Atlantic Ocean. The water is subject to the tide and the canal is one of the cleanest canals in the upper keys. The water is 16 feet deep. Parents and guardians must be able to lift the participant from the water.

Do dolphins heal?
There is no scientific proof that they heal nor is their proof that they do not heal. Participants with a diagnosis leave with that same diagnosis. At Island Dolphin Care we believe that when a person makes progress it is because they are in an environment that is highly motivating. Participants are relaxed, welcomed and not judged for having a disability. All sessions focus on ability not disability, thus motivating people to try tasks that they otherwise might be hesitant to try for fear of failure. Once people see themselves doing something new and watch their families’ pleased reactions, they are excited to attempt the next developmental steps.

Is there an age requirement?
Yes. Children must be at least 3 years old to participate. Participants should enjoy swimming in the water, not fear animals, and allow strangers to hold them. There is no maximum age limit as long as we can provide a safe and fun program while holding them in the water. The water is 16 feet deep and there is not the ability to stand or hold onto a side of the lagoon anywhere. Parents & guardians & caregivers must be able to lift the participant from the water.

Is swimming with dolphins good for everyone?
This program is NOT good for everyone. It is unsafe for individuals that exhibit aggressive behaviors, have uncontrolled grand mal seizures,dislike animals, or dislike swimming.

What else can I do in Key Largo?
There are so many things to do in Key Largo & South Florida! Key Largo is the dive capitol of the world and offers some of the best snorkeling, diving and fishing. Many families enjoy trips to the Everglades, kayaking, boating, enviro-tours, exploring the islands and Key West. You can parasail, hand feed 200 pound tarpon, enjoy beautiful sunsets, relax by your pool or shop till you drop! And that is not all – The Keys are home to some of the best fish restaurants and Key Lime Pies – You have not lived until you have enjoyed one of the best cheeseburgers served right here at Island Dolphin Care at our Wednesday Family Picnic.

I want more sessions for my child – are there any options for this?
Yes! As long as there is availability you can purchase additional swims and programs .

Other therapies are available and can be arranged for you in the local community. 

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