Sunday, January 13, 2008

Surf's Up: Surf therapy for children with autism

Wish the surf was up here, smack dab in the middle of the lower peninsula (a.k.a. the mitten) of Michigan, the Great Lakes State. Would love to see blue skies and sunshine again while taking in warm lake or ocean breezes. Sigh. It's lovely here though, at the moment. A fresh snow fall has coated all the trees with a layer of white.

Limited surfing opportunities (not surfing therapy) are available on our Great Lakes, but alas even the closest Great Lake, Lake Huron, will take more than an hour to reach from Mt. Pleasant. However, if one lives in California or near a beach where such therapy is offered, a child with autism has a great chance for an opportunity to experience surfing therapy. It's one of the most innovative and interesting therapies I have seen. Fortunately, more and more therapies and opportunities for children with autism are becoming available as awareness increases.

Anyway, there is a free camp (a day camp) in California profiled by the founders on their site Surfers Healing. They have some video footage and a ton of photographs on their site. It sounds like fun. My nine-year-old guy with autism would feel anxious at first but I think he would learn to love it because he enjoys being in the water. I did ask him yesterday what he think surfers are.

"Surfers are people in the water who discover," he responded.

'Okay..." I thought. 'Better ask another question."

"What do surf boarders ride on?" I said.

"Surfboards!," both boys responded in unison.

"Do they sit or stand?"

"They stand!" the duo replied.

"They ride out on their tummies first, then they yell 'Wipe Out'!" my five year old added. Yep, they both understand what surfing is all about. Hurray for books and television.


Elissa - Managing Autism said...

Isn't it amazing what they pick up on the television!!

The surfing therapy sounds really interesting - the kids look like they're having a terrific time, and what a great idea to enrich the lives of autistic children who love the water!

J said...

Yep, they sure do pick a lot up from the television for better or for worse.

It's great that experienced surfers are volunteering what they know to help kids on the spectrum.