MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Myrtle Beach has transformed itself into an autism-friendly vacation destination.

It started two years ago when city leaders designated April as Autism Advocacy Month, and it continues to be a high priority.

Between sensory-friendly days at the aquarium, safe rides on the Skywheel and dining experiences everyone can enjoy, Myrtle Beach has a lot to offer.

The Champion Autism Network, a nonprofit group based in Surfside Beach, has rebranded and relaunched its Autism Travel Card, which helps connect families with autism-friendly businesses along the Grand Strand. The businesses are vetted and have staff members who ware trained to help families who are dealing with autism.

A sensory-friendly trip to Myrtle Beach starts as soon as families land at Myrtle Beach International Airport, which has a quiet room where they can decompress and pick up their travel cards.

In addition to helping connect families with safe spots along the Strand, the card also provides them with discounts and promotions for places and events like Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet and Myrtle Beach Pelicans baseball games.

City Councilman John Krajc said the push for autism awareness extends beyond the vacation season. It’s a year-round endeavor.

“With fire response, police response being sensory friendly and understanding the special needs of that population is super important,” Krajc said. “There’s a big difference between mental illness and needing to be sensory friendly and these other potential situations that would come up that our first responders have to be aware of.”

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Taylor Maresca is the weekend morning anchor and morning reporter at News13. She joined the team in June 2022 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Taylor is from Houston. Follow Taylor on Twitter and read more of her work here.