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Mind like Water: Surfing with Autism

Brady has always been a water baby. Since before he could crawl, he has loved the water. Pool, bath or beach, he didn't discriminate. At 5 months old, before having any indication of autism, we enrolled Brady in a swim class. After learning about his autism prognosis, we doubled down and took countless hours of group and private lessons to keep him safe. Today, he is very competent in the water. That is not to say we, as parents, aren't always on guard. According to Autism Speaks, "Drowning remains a leading cause of death for children with autism and accounts for approximately 90 percent of deaths associated with wandering or bolting by those age 14 and younger."  As with many autistic kids, Brady appears to lack of sense of danger when it comes to water. Though a capable swimmer, Brady to this day has a habit of entering the ocean and just keeps going ... never realizing how deep the water has gotten or appreciating rip tides and rip currents.  So, my husband and I continue to tag-team water-safety duty, and it is exhausting. Regardless, most of our warm-weather weekends as a family are spent at the beach, playing in the waves, boogie-boarding and trying to surf. We consider ourselves lucky. For all of us, water is a form of therapy. This past week, Brady participated in the HEAL Surf Camp, which pairs “neuro-typical" coaches with those on the autism spectrum who wish to learn to surf. Brady has participated in this annual event for the past several years, and we could always tell by looking at him that it provides him with immense joy. But this year is a little different, because he can now communicate what it means to him ...

Why do you love water so much?

water carries my heavy hearted body i cant feel enveloped anywhere else.

Please tell us about your experience at HEAL Surf Camp. 

real fun to be with friends.  i enjoyed feeling the ocean in my body. 

Why did you spend the majority of your Surf Camp time in a kayak and not on a surfboard?

better for me.  easier. 

How did your surfing coach, Don, do?

my buddy helped me be in sync with the activity. 

What a wonderful time everyone had, and we can't wait to do it again next year!! Thank you,

HEAL! And thank you, Brady, for giving us one more precious glimpse into the mind of autism.

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