Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Surfers Healing Cracks the Shell of Autism

Mission Viejo, Calif. -- Being the parent of a child with autism is a challenge in many ways. We are constantly in search of things to crack the shell that keeps our kids cut off from the rest of the world.

My son’s "happy place" is the water, so you would assume that going to the beach would be a blast for our family. Well ... actually, no. The sound of the ocean is more than the sensory processing center in his brain can handle and usually sends him into a meltdown of epic proportions. So we go to pools, Lake Mission Viejo, RSM Beach Club and Baby Beach in Dana Point.

A couple months ago a group of moms with autistic children told me about Surfers Healing, and I signed Franklin up for the day camp. When the day arrived, I was a nervous wreck. In preparation for the day, I had been trying to desensitize his nervous system, so I took him every night down to Aliso Creek Beach and let him play on the play equipment. After the fifth day in a row, he quit plugging his ears and crying; he had gotten used to the roar of the ocean, apparently—a good thing, because the next day was Surfers Healing camp.

My husband and I headed down to Doheny with Franklin and some of our family friends who have kids with autism. We were all anxious and nervous and had a lot of fear and hope. I watched other kids go out into the ocean and come out more relaxed and aware. I saw some kids really fretting about the water but after much coaxing were able to go into the surf. Different kids came out.

As we were waiting our turn down at the shore, Franklin was getting a little anxious and whiny. The volunteer called our name, ripped him out of my arms and sent him out into the ocean with a surfer, who put him on a long board. He was paddling out within five seconds of being taken from me. Wait—did I really just hand my child off to a stranger who threw him into heavy surfer with another stranger? I heard no crazy meltdown or crying from him. My little 4½-year-old non-verbal autistic son got three 200-yard rides into the shore with Puna, his surfer from Hawaii.

1 comment:

  1. I have gotten permission from the staff at IDEA to start a recreation group for people with ALL developmental disabilities for the summer.

    We have a Playstation 3, anime, videos and board games and the members of IDEA. Now all we need are more members to get started.

    If you are a person with a disability who would like to meet at least once a week for fun and games, please post on the IDEA facebook page or answer this post or please email me at rhudson765@aol.com.

    Our first meeting will be this Thursday, July 7 at 4:30 PM.

    IF we get enough people, we will be able to get together every week and possibly even meet on other days of the week.

    This group is totally FREE. You can bring Playstation 3 games or board games and card games and DVD movies. I can also bring some cartoons and TV shows if you tell me what to bring.

    If you get hungry, there is a pizzeria, a Chinese Restaurant and a Dunkin Donuts nearby.. You will have to bring your own Transportation but the Nomber 3 bus drops you off very close to IDEA..

    If you need directions on how to take the bus or any more information you can call me at 203-296-9111 at home or 203-218-1174 on my Cell.

    Idea meets at
    515 Washington Avenue.
    Bridgeport, CT 06604-3629

    You can Contact IDEA at

    * Phone: (203) 334-IDEA (4332)
    * Email: info@ideaonline.us