North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is the First Museum in North Carolina to Become a Certified Autism Center™

NC Maritime SP kids activityNC Maritime Stroy Time


North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is now the first museum in North Carolina to earn Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) designation, granted by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). The Museum staff and volunteers have shown their dedication to providing a supportive environment for guests with autism and other sensory disorders by completing IBCCES’ comprehensive training and certification program.

NC Maritime SP kids poolJoseph Schwarzer Jr., director of the North Carolina Maritime Museums said, “This is a remarkable achievement for the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport and its entire staff. I couldn’t be prouder.”
For over 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism certification for healthcare, education and corporate professionals around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel options. In response to this need, IBCCES created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and attractions industry. More parents and individuals are seeking out destinations and organizations that have completed a certification program through an accredited source.
“This process gave us the opportunity to look more deeply at how we are serving everybody who visits the museum,” said Lori Sanderlin, manager of the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport.
The N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport hosts monthly Sensory Saturdays. The free program is offered the first Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the museum, located at 204 E. Moore St. in downtown Southport. During that time, the lights are dimmed, and the audio throughout the museum is turned off. The monthly drop-in program also features a craft to incorporate more hands-on experiences. Volunteers and staff are available to assist as much — or as little — as needed. Those who are less sensitive to external stimuli are, of course, also welcome to participate. Museum staff just asks that they use quiet voices and be mindful of the other patrons during Sensory Saturdays.NC Maritime Sensory Saturdays
IBCCES is the only credentialing organization providing this type of certification, which includes evidence-based information as well as the perspectives of individuals with autism, alongside other tools and resources such as onsite reviews and customized recommendations to ensure the program is a long-term commitment and has a lasting impact.
“North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport staff and volunteers are now better equipped to meet the needs of ALL guests and we’re proud to work with them on this initiative,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman.
IBCCES also created, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.
For more information on Sensory Saturday or other museum programming, call 910-477-5151 or visit

About North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southpoint

The N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport tells the story of the Cape Fear region and its people. The museum is at the intersection of the mighty Cape Fear River and the vast Atlantic Ocean. It shares tales of pirates and pillage, blockade running and riverfront archaeology, and other nautical adventures. Ongoing educational programs for children and adults about this area are also available on a regular basis.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is open Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is open to the public with free admission. Donations are always appreciated. For more information, visit

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is part of the North Carolina Maritime Museum system, which also includes the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras and the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. All three museums are part of the Division of State History Museums under the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.


Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are the only training and certification programs endorsed by the largest grassroots autism organization in the world, The Autism Society of America, and recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.

Learn More About Becoming a Certified Autism Center™

Fill out the form below to learn more about our CAC Program, which includes staff certifications, training options and center certification.


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