To the general public, Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

Life with autism can be unpredictable. Children with autism have sensory processing issues making lights, sounds, smells, crowds and new environments difficult to tolerate. When the child becomes overstimulated they communicate their discomfort through tantrums and meltdowns. Most times these tantrums occur outside the home. Friends, family members, and the public-at-large can be very critical and judgmental of these episodes, making rude comments about your parenting skills or how your child is naughty.

Because of this judgment, many families opt to stay home. This decision does not help anyone. The parents and siblings become isolated and lonely and the child with autism is not given an opportunity to learn and thrive in a social setting.

Creating an environment where the families impacted by autism feel supported and without judgment is the primary CAN mission. In January 2016, the town of Surfside Beach issued a resolution declaring it the first autism-friendly travel destination, with the City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County following suit at the end of 2018.

We want to give our kids the experience most other kids have, even if it is emotionally draining, and programs like this make us feel as if we are not alone.
- Andy Reithel

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