As changes are being made the to way resorts and destinations accommodate to their visitors, it’s important to highlight those who recognize and cater towards the special needs community.
Becky Large started her non-profit, Champion Autism Network (CAN) when she noticed a lack of travel-related resources for families affected by autism. Many families struggle with traveling due to the lack of awareness and accessibility, and Large hoped to change this for not only her families, but others. Her first mission was Myrtle Beach, a popular vacation destination in South Carolina. Large sampled needs from families in the area and asked what kinds of accommodations they need most when they are traveling with an autistic child. Many said they hoped to go out to eat with their families, which led to educating the restaurant staff at Myrtle Beach about autism and certain triggers.
Following this change inspired by CAN, the resort has designated sensory areas and provides noise cancelling headphones to their autistic guests. The Myrtle Beach International Airport also opened a ‘quiet room’.
“Families can come and have a traditional family experience here, but one modified for somebody with autism so everyone can enjoy it,” Large said to the HuffPost.
Beaches Resort, with two locations in Jamaica and one in Turks & Caicos, is hoping to attain their Advanced Certified Autism Center (ACAC) approval, by making a few changes.
According to PopSugar, the resort had made the following changes to their destinations and they’ll be ready to the public in May 2019!
Among other things, a pre-travel questionnaire gives families to opportunity to make special requests or identify preferences. They offer one-on-one childcare services and individualized meals can be made at the families request. For each child, there are designated quiet spaces located around the resort, specialized camps and water-sports instruction led by trained individuals.
Adam Stewart, deputy chairman of Sandals Resorts International [SHOULD BE LINKED], is eager to be spearheading this initiative. “We are proud to continue paving the way for families with individuals who have special needs, including children on the autism spectrum, to travel comfortably and truly live up to our tagline — the ‘Resorts for Everyone,'” he said to PopSugar.
To find out more about CAN and the great work they are doing, visit their website. And as you start to plan for summer vacations, check out Myrtle Beach! To see all of the autism-friendly events taking place this summer, click here!