HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Since 2012, the Champion Autism Network has helped raise awareness about autism in the area and helped families with children on the autism spectrum both locally and beyond.
One of those ways is the CAN Card. It was created in 2016 to provide families with a quiet and respectful way to let businesses know they're an autism family.
In just three years, they have been used by nearly 800 families throughout the country.
Families can get CAN Cards at several locations, including the Surfside Beach Town Hall, the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and the visitor section at the Myrtle Beach International Airport
Becky Large, founder of the Champion Autism Network, said she wanted a way to accommodate autism families, especially during the peak of tourism season.
Champion Autism Network has now partnered with nearly 50 businesses throughout the Grand Strand such as restaurants, hotels and venues that have received training to understand special requests and accommodations.
Large said it's all about helping these families enjoy outings like everyone else.
"The general public has been wonderful and the businesses and the support of everybody, it's amazing and it's life-altering for these families, so thank you," said Large.
CAN is working with more cities throughout South Carolina to partner up with the CAN Card program. Large said they are also working with businesses in Florence and have plans to expand into Georgetown and Charleston as well.
Of the 800 current families with CAN Cards, nearly one third of them are from out of state and vacation along the Grand Strand.
Large believes the biggest hurdle to expansion is finding the right people and resources.
"We can help to guide them, but it's really up to them to take that instruction and that guidance and make it their own," Large said. "So that's the biggest thing is finding the right mix of people to do that."
Anyone interested in partnering with the Champion Autism Network should click here.