Bringing Awareness to the Neighborhood
by Becky Large
Champion Autism Network, Inc. (CAN) is a nonprofit autism awareness organization based in Surfside Beach, South Carolina. CAN was founded in 2012 by Becky Large, a business professional and mother of a child on the spectrum. She started by creating the Autism Community Education (ACE) program with SOS Healthcare and quickly realized living in a resort area that the region could support not only Horry County residents, but all families dealing with autism.
In January of 2016, Town Council of Surfside Beach issued a proclamation declaring Surfside Beach SC the first Autism Friendly Travel Destination. Since then, we’ve hosted over 180 families from around the country, Canada, Germany and Nova Scotia.
Children on the spectrum are sensitive to lights, sounds, smells, and crowds. When overstimulated they can have tantrums or meltdowns. These episodes are met with criticism and judgment by the public-at-large. Many families opt to stay home rather than try something new as unfamiliar surroundings are a huge trigger. is provides no opportunity for socialization for the child with autism — or fun and new experiences for the parents and siblings.
Our mission is to:
- Make the Town of Surfside Beach and surrounding area an autism friendly destination.
- Support families impacted by autism.
- Bring autism awareness to businesses and the community
- Inspire action to encourage and champion our families.
If you see a tantrum or meltdown, remember this is a family in crisis, not one that doesn’t know how to control a child. Depending on the severity of the situation, please o er a smile or a helping hand.