But what does it do? IT JUST WORKS.

19 Sep

Many, many non-believers ask me all the time why. Why do I believe so wholeheartedly in surfing as a therapeutic option for my child with autism?

Because of the camaraderie of the families. Because of the chance to see my child do something spectacular. Because the rocking motion of the board  on water calms and soothes my child by giving her vestibular input. Because my kid loves the water. Yes to all of that. But for one other important reason:

IT JUST WORKS.

Neurologically, it works. My child is more responsive, more social and makes more strides after she has been surfing than she does otherwise. In the week after Surfers Healing, my child made more eye contact, attempted to sign new words and DID sign a new word with appropriate use, initiated shaking a child’s hand in greeting, sought out social contact with her brothers and began trying new foods. I realized we had seen these kinds of gains before, and that’s when I put it together. It was the week after Surfers Healing last year.

I don’t know how or why surfing stimulates her neurologically and opens up pathways we can’t seem to access any other way, but I know it does. I am not seeking a cure, as most of us know. I am not seeking to make my child neurotypical. What I AM doing is realizing that something she loves helps her function more effectively in the neurotypical world. So guess what, she’s going surfing this week and a lot of weeks. If I can get her on the water, that’s where she will be. It’s a reward for her and it helps her. So, why would I say no? I live at the beach, I have friends who surf who are willing to work with her, and it has real benefit to her in multiple ways.

Studies are being done on children with autism to try to find out why board sports like surfing and skateboarding and SUP seem to help them therapeutically, but for me, we only live once. It doesn’t matter why to me, only that it does. I agree the studies should happen so people not on the spectrum can see the value in this therapy and offer their support however they can. No one is disputing the increase in autism diagnoses so the more neurotypical support we can get, the better. But in the mean time, this mom who knows it works is going to keep working it. I don’t expect my child to ever be a champion surfer (although, who knows, she’s surprised me a hell of a lot in six short years) but I know she will be healthier, happier and more neurologically open being on the water. And you know what, it just works is okay by me.

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