Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Riding the Waves of Fun: A Surf Camp Designed for Kids with Autism Is a Big Hit in South Florida

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Riding the Waves of Fun: A Surf Camp Designed for Kids with Autism Is a Big Hit in South Florida

Article excerpt

In the spring of 2008, the City of Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department partnered with the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD), a comprehensive outreach and support program serving people with autism and related disabilities, and hosted their first surf camp for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Now in its sixth year, the camp was formed to provide a therapeutic surfing experience for children with autism, which could limit their ability to otherwise embark on such an opportunity. This unique and exciting camp, free to all participants, opened its doors to 12 campers ranging from eight to 12 years of age with high-functioning autism, pervasive developmental disorder or Asperger syndrome.

Parents and camp instructors attest to an increase in self-esteem among participants, who also benefit through the opportunity to interact with others. Some children who display repetitive behaviors and/ or anxiety seem to be calmed by the ocean, which can allow for increased attention and focus.

"The reason we do this camp is to really show the rest of the world that kids with autism, and kids with any disability, really are more 'abled' than they are disabled. …

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