Champion Autism Network trains resort workers to be autism friendly

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Champion Autism network is training hotel workers to make it easier for autism families to take vacations. 

The number of hotels the Champion Autism Network has trained has tripled since last summer. The group continues to make Myrtle Beach an autism-friendly destination and helping the city’s economy.

The Boyers, a family of 6, visits Myrtle Beach with their 7-year-old son Brady, who happens to be autistic.

“It’s tough for all of us and when we go out we don’t want to have people look at us. We want to be accepted too. We do our best to give our family what other families want and it’s hard,” said David Boyer.

They say even going to a movie or a restaurant can be difficult, but that’s where the Champion Autism Network, or CAN, comes in. 

“We bring everybody in. Your maintenance staff, your housekeeping, restaurant services, front desk,” said Wynn Godbold.

In the last two days, CAN trained 300 hotel workers at the Landmark and Palace resorts teaching them how to interact with those on the spectrum, and how they can help reduce sensory overload. 

“Clearing the table of the salt, the pepper, the barbeque sauce, and just clearing the table before we sit down so there’s not distraction and overwhelm,” said Godbold.

“It opened your eyes to a lot more different things than what you thought was inside planning a vacation,” said Landmark Resort night manager Joseph Cartwright.

Autism families like to travel during the off season when the beaches aren’t packed, which helps tourism year round.

“That’s when we want to be here, when it’s more quiet, and we’re willing to spend our money and come back time and time again,” said Godbold.

CAN said there’s a growing interest in their training, not just along the Grand Strand, but also in communities across the country. 

Click here to find a list of autism friendly businesses.

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