Efforts of Grand Strand autism awareness group to expand across country

Grand Strand

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Champion Autism Network in Surfside Beach works in Horry and Georgetown counties to educate the community about how to be more Autism friendly, and now those efforts are going national.

Starting in 2020, the training that 15 resorts along the Grand Strand received will be offered in 37 resorts across 15 vacation destinations in the United States.

Some of the participating resorts will be in Branson, Missouri, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and Las Vegas.

This expansion comes after a partnership with Bluegreen Vacations. Five of the company’s properties received the CAN training and Executive Director for the Champion Autism Network, Becky Large, tells News13, they were so happy with the training the company wanted more of it’s properties to participate.

The training works to help resort, restaurant and tourist attraction employees understand and be more aware of certain things that can be difficult for families who have a family member with Autism. Things like hotel check-in and long waits at restaurants can be difficult in some situations.

“We will use the resort as a jumping off point and then we will get restaurants and venues involved as well with the CAN card program so our tourist families now can come for supported vacations now not just in Myrtle Beach, but they have a plethora of options,” Large says.

CAN cards act as a way for families to notify recreation staff at attractions, resorts and restaurants that they are visiting with someone who has Autism. The cards can provide discounts and awareness to staff so any sensory triggers can be in mind.

“A lot of people when we first started this restaurants especially wanted to know how would we know if there is someone with autism on the premises so what we developed was the CAN card,” Large says. “It gives people the incentive to let people know they have Autism which we are reticent to do often, but it gives them the comfort to go to these places.”

To learn more about the CAN card, click here.

So far about 30 restaurants, seven attractions and 15 resorts in our area have gone through CAN training.

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