Surfing for Autism

I am still on the mend but wanted to share with you an event we attended this weekend in Nags Head, NC.  I have to say it was a workout navigating the sand with a sprained ankle.

I have three fantastic children and I love them with all my heart.  This weekend we celebrated the uniqueness of my sons who are on the Autism Spectrum.  The event we attended this weekend was Surfing for Autism  sponsored by the Autism Society of NC-Outer Banks.

I am having trouble putting into words the experience of this event.  The people who were involved with creating this event are fantastic and the volunteers are out of this world.  I could feel the love all weekend.  Not only love, but compassion and understanding.  On top of that, they gave my children the opportunity to participate in something they would not do on their own.

It was not easy getting our sons to this event.  We were a 1/2 hour late just to attend the “Meet and Greet” on Friday night due to my son’s not wanting to step outside of their comfort zone.   When we finally arrived they had a great time!   We were greeted warmly, the whole family felt at ease and it was nice to visit with friends and make new friends.

Re, Wende and Me at the “Meet and Greet”

The whole family took part in fishing on Jennette’s Pier then we then headed to the beach where my youngest child was able to get comfortable with a surfboard and Mark even explained to him what “Hang 10” was.  My elder son did the usual 12-year-old things including asking when we were heading home.

Rainbow During Dinner
My youngest son with my daughter checking out the surfboard.

When we arrived home that night, both of my sons said they were not going to surf in the morning.  My eldest son even offered to stay home and work on his school book report.  That is the thing about Autism they are very comfortable with a schedule and like knowing what is going on.

The unknown is difficult for them.I even watched a couple of videos that Surfing for Autism posted as well as the social story with my youngest son.    It didn’t help alleviate his fears but it helped him see what would happen the next morning.

The next morning, we faced some of the same challenges getting the boys to leave the house but we finally managed to make it to the beach.  Our youngest was first up to surf at 10:00 a.m. and he said he would not be surfing.  He was actually latched onto my husband with a death grip and would not remove himself.

We met the two surfers and skilled worker and they were fantastic.  Our eldest son volunteered to go with our youngest and surf with him.  (this from the kid that said he wasn’t surfing either!)  

My husband got in the water with our youngest, while our elder son was with the surfers and I was standing with the skilled worker volunteer.  Our eldest son was a natural on the surfboard and was standing after a few tries.  Just have to say watching him with a huge smile on his face brought tears to my eyes.  Well, more then tears a full on cry!

It was awesome seeing him enjoying himself.  Our youngest agreed to get on one of the surfers shoulders and they were able to convince him to ride in on a wave on the surfers back.  The minute he hit the beach he was out of the water and done, but he gave it a try!

On The Shoulders – Photo Credit Ann Marie Haywood
Riding In – Photo Credit Ann Marie Haywood
At the beach – Photo Credit Ann Marie Haywood
And he is out of there! Photo Credit Ann Marie Haywood
And he is out of there – Photo Credit Ann Marie Haywood
Our Youngest with His Surf Partners
Our Daughter

My husband and daughter also had a chance to try out the surfboard as well.  Big thanks for that, my daughter is the one in the family that really wanted to surf so her having a chance made her day!

Since this was our youngest sons time, we were able to come back for round two at 12:00 for our eldest sons turn.  He did great and I was happy that he had a little time earlier as the rain started to come down and he had to get out of the water a littler earlier than expected as the weather was getting a little rough.

Our Eldest Riding a Wave
He’s a Natural! Thank’s Re

Super huge thanks to everyone that helped make this event happen.  I was touched by all the participation and even how far some of the volunteers traveled to take part in this event.

Thank you to our surfers Wenfeld, Pete, Mark and Dawson (not sure of the spelling) and to our two skilled workers that traveled from Haymarket, VA and Elizabeth City, NC.   Thank you to all the volunteers that came out to help.  It means so much that you gave your time to spend with others.

I know this event touched my sons lives and I am super excited that my eldest would like us to run out and buy a surfboard!   This is big as he doesn’t like to leave the house.

I know this event also touched my heart, my husband’s heart and I was proud of my daughter for all the support she shows for her brothers.  I will carry this weekend with me and can’t wait until next summer to participate in this event again.  Well done Surfing for Autism for this fantastic event!  Thank you to everyone involved!

The Family – Photo Credit: Ann Marie Haywood

Facts on Autism:  http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism

Symptoms on Aspergers:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/symptoms-of-aspergers-disorder/

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7 thoughts on “Surfing for Autism

  1. Yahoo! Way to go. That looks like a great event and…I am jealous, I can,t and have never surfed. Sean too cool. Caitlin, you are the best…Aidan…you are the picture ham :).

  2. Wow! I would love to get my son involved in something like that! A few weeks back we went out on a boat and he LOVED getting in the water and floating around. I was totally shocked because he hated it a couple years ago!

  3. 8/19/12

    So glad to hear how much your oldest loved it. Don’t assume that your little one will not want to try again next year. This was our son’s second year. Last year he got a boo boo and I was sure that convincing him to do it again this year would be difficult. But he took to it like a fish to water. It was a great day for the families and volunteers alike. Such an awesome organization. There aren’t enough words to express what this event means. Just sad we have to wait another year to do it again.

    Page Peaks

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