Sensory SaturdayCertified Autism Center

The North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport is the first Certified Autism Center in the state of North Carolina. We welcome visitors of all abilities and their families. Staff and volunteers have completed the training necessary to ensure the environment is a welcoming one for those on the autism spectrum. We continue to look at ways to incorporate programs and activities for those with sensory sensibilities.

Sensory Saturday

The N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport hosts monthly Sensory Saturdays on the first Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m. at the museum. During that time, we dim the lights and turn off the audio throughout the museum. 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. For more information on Sensory Saturday or other museum programming, call 910-477-5151.

All Certified Autism Centers meet the following requirements:

  • Dedicated to serving individuals with autism
  • At least 80% of staff is trained and certified in the field of Autism
  • Maintain compliance with National Healthcare/Education Accreditation standards
  • Is committed to ongoing training in autism
  • Complies with HIPAA and ADA requirements

My Museum Book

New environments can be scary no matter how old you are! So we have added My Museum Book from Libraries and Autism to help with visiting. This book helps explain what we do and describes programs you may be interested in. It also lets you know when we are open and explains some of the rules to keep in mind when visiting.

We welcome all ages, abilities and demographics. And our hope is the book can help when going from the comfort of your home or school to the museum.



Enclosed in the book are pictures of:

  • The entrance
  • Scavenger hunt location
  • Bathrooms and water fountain location

Local Resources

The N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport is honored to partner with other local agencies to help serve a variety of communities. Two that we are involved with, and recommend as sources of regional information and events, include:

  • Brunswick County Local Interagency Coordinating Council (BCLICC): The mission of the Brunswick County Interagency Coordinating Council for Children with Special Needs (BCLICC) is to respond to the needs of children from birth to age 5 who have disabilities and to respond to the needs of their families by advocating for the development and implementation of a comprehensive and coordinated system of health, development, social and education services. They maintain an atmosphere of mutual commitment of families, professionals and community representatives. The museum helps with the council’s outreach and participates in their two annual events (Easter and Christmas).
  • Able Buddies, Special Needs Community of Pender and Onslow County: The museum participates in Able Buddies’ monthly events and supports its mission to provide the opportunity for intellectually disabled individuals to become interactive members of their community. The group encourages self-confidence, independence, and social acceptance.