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Flying Is Hard for Kids on the Spectrum. This Airport Is Helping to Change That

Children with autism are amazing. But a fun and relaxing family vacation at the beach may sound like a far-fetched fantasy if you have a child with the disorder, especially if the trip involves flying. The Myrtle Beach International Airport in South Carolina, along with other organizations in the area, plans to make that fantasy a reality. A new waiting room, designed specifically for children with autism and their parents, opened just in time to accommodate travelers who want to attend the autism-friendly family events taking place in the Grand Strand in April 2016.

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Flying is stressful even when you’re not on the spectrum, and it can be especially trying for those who have autism. The crowded, fast-paced environments and strict, unfamiliar routines of most airports are often too much for young travelers on the spectrum. Traveling also creates stress for their parents.

Myrtle Beach International is quieter and less crowded than many large airports around the nation, and the facilities offer plenty of opportunities to explore without overloading the senses. The airport is working with the Champion Autism Network to make traveling by plane as easy as possible for individuals with autism and their loved ones.

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Officials chose a room near the baggage claims area to serve as a new waiting room for young passengers on the spectrum. The room provides these passengers with a quiet place to escape and regain composure after an often stressful flight while another family member takes care of other necessary tasks, such as claiming luggage, renting a car, or securing accommodations.

Autism awareness is high in the Grand Strand area. Several local businesses, including restaurants and lodging facilities, work with Champion Autism Network to cater to the needs of individuals on the autism spectrum, and the area boasts a diverse collection of attractions that appeal to a wide range of interests, including quiet beaches, theaters, amusement parks and weekly firework exhibitions. Starting in April 2016, the area plans to host a variety of autism-friendly family events, such as pier fishing, firehouse tours, sensory-friendly movies, and surfing.

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Thinking about packing your bags for a relaxing Myrtle Beach vacation? Check out Surfside Beach. It’s a small, quiet town about 15 miles south of the Myrtle Beach International Airport, and it claims to be the first autism-friendly travel destination.

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