Autism group unveils quiet room at Myrtle Beach Speedway
Myrtle Beach, S.C. (WPDE) —
Families with children on the autism spectrum are finding more places along the Grand Strand accommodating their loved ones, due in large part to the Champion Autism Network (CAN).
For those with loved one who are autistic, sensory can be a big issue for them. So loud noises, crowds, bright lights can trigger them.
"Many families wouldn't even consider bringing their child with autism to an event like this," said Becky Large, with CAN.
Large is talking about NASCAR races. She said the sound and smell alone could bother children on the autism spectrum. But now a new sensory sensitive room at the Myrtle Beach Speedway is changing that for families.
"Having the suite makes all the difference, you can still hear the noise, but it is quieted down quite a bit," said Large. "It's air conditioned so they're not too hot and there's still a barrier for any smells and smoke and things like that."
The suite is a typical VIP box you would see at most sporting events. Large and the Myrtle Beach Speedway managers started planning this special room about a year ago. It was after Large, who has a son on the autism spectrum, saw her family could enjoy the races in this special setting.
"It makes a big difference," said Large.
Myrtle Beach Speedway announcer, Mike Neff, said he's proud to welcome families to the races. He said it's their way of giving back.
"It gives families a chance to come out and enjoy racing, which most families think at that point when they have a child on the autism spectrum they're not going to get to do it," said Neff. "So we have basically opened a door to a bunch of race fans that didn't think they were going to get to do this."
Large said this is the first dedicated suite like this for families at a NASCAR facility. And the unveiling is perfect timing for the community, since Saturday kicks off Autism Awareness Month.
Neff said he's happy families can enjoy the races any night and all through the year - since the suite is always available.
There are special races Saturday, where drivers who have family members on the autism spectrum are welcoming the community to the event.
A meet and greet is at the Myrtle Beach Speedway at 7 p.m. and the races start at 7:30 p.m.