The sound of the ocean roaring and crashing on the beach is pure relaxation to those who seek recharging their batteries at the beach. For children on the Autism spectrum however it is terrifying, too loud and very stressful. This in turn becomes very disappointing and stressful for the rest of the family who may have to give up outings to the beach, or can only partake there without their child.
Despite the fact many children can’t handle the grains of sand and the sounds of the surf parents and therapists will work with these children to try to build up a tolerance, but it can take many years depending on how often the family can get to the shore.
So what can you say about the beauty of regular people wanting to make a difference in the life of child who is scared and overwhelmed by the ocean, and who misses out on enjoying the relaxation and fun of the beach?
They are heroes to parents and anyone who loves a child on the spectrum because they help these children not miss out on something so many of us take for granted. They give back valuable time to families and give the gift of memories. These heroes belong to a group called Surfers for Autism.
The group originated in December 2007 as an idea from some Florida surfers who knew a family that was affected by autism and it has taken off since. Surfers for Autism is a not-for-profit group, paired up with Autism Speaks to raise funds and successful raised almost 10,000 dollars at their first event. They have since held numerous events across the country.
How Surfers for Autism Works
During Surfers for autism events, a child is paired with two to four experienced surfers and they gently guide them into the water. SFA believe in treating the child and family like “rock stars “ for the day and provide a day full of activities such as bounce houses, karaoke, live music, and face painting. They day is topped off with a catered lunch at no cost.
SFA Mission Statement– The Surfers For Autism mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental disabilities, support advocacy for autism issues and scientific research. Our focus is to eliminate stigma through public awareness and education and to unite communities through volunteerism.
For more information about events from Surfers for Autism
Email: [email protected]
From Screaming to Body Surfering
For our family it took several summers of trying to get out son to stay on the beach, he was afraid of the ocean, detested the sand. We tried at Wildwood, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights and Ocean City beaches eventually he learned to love the sand since it gave stimulation also, and he learned to tolerate the sounds of the surf once he ‘got’ the therapeutic effects of the water. Most recently our son can be found body surfering the waves of the New Jersey shore.