Justin LOVES the water! When he was younger, even though he could swim he loved to let himself sink to the bottom of the pool and rest there. It was soothing for him, he said he liked the way it felt. But how do you think lifeguards felt about that? We know he could swim, but its unnerving. You see, drowning is the leading cause of death for kids with autism. And we live in Virginia Beach – surrounded by water at both the beach and the bay. So the only way to retain our sanity as parents was to make sure he was a capable and confident swimmer. So he swims, does SUP, and has tried surfing and snorkeling, too. And he loves them all!
Today was Surfers Healing Virginia Beach, a highlight of the year for our autism community.
The program runs camps around the world that pair pro surfers with kids with autism – to take them out to ride the waves and expose them to surfing. If the organization is new to you, check out their website to learn more about this great org. http://www.surfershealing.org
The kids love it so much that its in high demand. The camp extended to two days, and the over 400 slots are reserved within less than an hour of opening! And I can never say enough about the kindness and heart of the surfers who participate. They are so great with our kids!
This was Justin’s second year and – true to its hashtag – it was #oneperfectday.
The weather cooperated so we had sunny, clear blue skies and warm water. The dolphins even made an appearance off the surfing area to And while I loved watching my little surfer, we stayed for hours watching so many other families cheer on their sons and daughters.
When it was Justin’s turn to surf, he confidently followed his surfer out into the surf, and they paddled their board out a good distance to wait for some good waves. They floated around for a while (my little guys might happily do that for hours) then caught their first wave rolling in. With the help of his surfer, Justin rose to his knees and them stood up on the board. Sometimes for a few seconds then a spill, sometimes longer as they rode the wave all the way in. When they reached the coast, Justin would turn around and march back through the surf … ready to give it another go. He was brave and confident and happy on the water.
Here are a couple pics I captured of Justin out on the water. John Wright did the official pics and they should be posted soon. Here’s his FB Page Link
And here is a mesh of a few other pics I captured from the 1-2:30 slot on Saturday, Aug 15th. (just click on the image to see the full image … the preview will just show a part). Still trying out this new photo gallery, Mesh, to see what I think …
Thanks to Izzy Paskowitz for realizing that water helped your son, and growing a program to extend it to the global autism community. We are so grateful!