Professional surfers teach autistic children to surf

Professional surfers teach autistic children to surf

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - Lots of splashing and smiles at Folly Beach Wednesday as children with autism learned to surf. It was all part of the 6th annual Surfers Healing Camp. The annual event pairs autistic children with professional surfers for a day of fun at the beach.

"It is a day my son looks forward to," said Letiandrea Hinton, her son Jordan has autism. "The smile on his face says it all."

Often, autistic children spend their time with specialists and doctors who try help them cope with problems with motors skills and socials skills. However, at the beach they have more freedom.

"Well you can just tell when the kids go out there they just feel very free," said Shannon Proctor whose 6-year-old son also has autism. "They don't have to worry about anything, they are one with the water."

For a child with autism, a simple conversation with a loved can be a struggle. In the water no words were required.

"You don't really have to talk while you are out there, you can just sit out there and relax and take in the environment," said Angie Smoak, an occupational therapist at Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in West Ashley.

Israel Paskowitz, founder of Surfers Healing, has an autistic son. The positive effect the beach had on his son led him to share his experience with others.

"It's a calming event for Jordan, the first year it was a little ruff." said Hinton. "Each year he progresses and does more."

Some children with autism go to the Pediatric Rehabilitation Center for therapy. But, health care providers say the day at the beach is also a form of therapy.

"In here we motivate kids with various things like toys and swings and things like that, it's a very naturally motivating environment the beach," said Smoak.

Surfers Healing benefits parents too.

"There aren't too many activities that include special needs children," said Anastacia Mallory. "It's just nice to have an event that is designed specifically for them."

Copyright 2013 WCSC. All rights reserved.