Group works to make Myrtle Beach ‘autism-friendly’

Group works to make Myrtle Beach ‘autism-friendly’

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Autism Community Education (ACE) program decided to team up with SOS Healthcare to make daily lives a little easier for families who have children with autism and who normally have a hard time getting out of the house and doing things together.

Large said the 75 to 100 families attending the sensory-friendly movies at Grand 14 started wondering what else is available. She started looking and received a $5,000 grant from the United Way to start autism friendly training for local restaurants.

"There's something about not wanting to cook on a Thursday night and being able to go, let's go out for dinner than being all event driven," said Becky Large, the Program Coordinator of the ACE Program.

The first restaurant that has agreed to be that helping hand is the Simply Southern Smokehouse located on Mr. Joe White Avenue in Myrtle Beach.

"Just dealing with that judgment. It would be so much nicer if someone came up and said 'Can I help you, you know is there anything I can do? Rather than 'can't you control your child,' " Large expressed.

Simply Southern Smokehouse Manager Tammy Floyd said she is confident the restaurant's environment will be perfect for these families.

"I think that my customers will be fine with it, they won't have any problems with it. And any time you're helping a family, that's just the right thing to do. Cause or no, it's just the right thing to do," Floyd explained.

Floyd has already talked to her wait staff about the possibility of having to prepare special food, turn off music, and be more understanding of families with special circumstances.

"To know as a parent with a child on the spectrum, to know that this restaurant or this team understands makes you that much more comfortable to go and try it," Large said.

Large said this program is only growing. Each time a child is diagnosed with Autism at MUSC, the family is given her number. She has been getting three to four calls a week.

"Awareness. That's nine-tenths of the battle, that if folks are aware, because if they are then they are not looking at you at you as being different. They are looking at you in hopes to help you and accommodate your needs and the needs of the child," Floyd said.

The next sensory-friendly event will be at Ripley's Aquarium next Saturday.

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