Surfers For Autism

4 Nov

We had the best day ever on Saturday.  Seriously.  EVER.

Biggest thanks ever to Surfers for Autism, the surfers, the founders, the volunteers, Fort Myers Beach, and FMB PD & FD.

I’ll be updating this post as I sift through the 789 images I took on Saturday when we were guest of Surfers for Autism.

They say that we (people with autism) are “Rock Stars”  so if we are, then I’d have to say that knowing them and being there with them on a gorgeous Saturday on Florida’s SW Gulf Coast was like the worlds most epic fantasy jam session ever, because we think they are worthy of the title as well.  Seriously.  If you had three wishes and could wish for anyone to play together, for you… That’s the fantastic and awesome I am trying to express here.

Where to begin…

We rarely go to the beach as days off and not-too-sick days rarely line up.  Also, the beach is sensory overload wearing a disguise that suggests that she (the beach) is a serene environment, but for us it can be overload starting at the application of sunscreen and escalating from there.

We did it though.  We went on Saturday.  I have proof!

Before the first run of the day:

Fort Myers Beach FD brought over a truck and handed out paint! Everyone painted and tagged! It was great fun and quite a masterpiece!

Alex painted these words on the wheel well trim: fire, 911, emergency, truck… I found a blank spot and painted his name, some hearts, and an orange penguin.

Alex didn’t know where to start so I told him, “just find a space that doesn’t have any paint and start painting!” So he painted words (you can see 911 in this image) and then he proceeded to paint all of those little rubber feely-bobber hairs on the tire orange. Nobody else had thought of that! (by the way, those feely bobber hair things are left over from the injection molding/tire making process. The NASCAR peeps have to cut them off their tires! Ahhh Viva La Google!)

Alex’s first surfers/guides/volunteers. The dads on the short kept commenting, “Oh that kid has it rough! Three total babes in bikinis!” It was pretty funny. They weren’t just gorgeous, they were incredibly patient and kind and warm and really made Alex feel so secure in that new and alien environment. I’m very thankful (for his surf goddesses! :-) When he came back to shore he had two more with him! One of the dads said to me, “That kids got talent!”.

For his 2nd run, he had another two fantastic guides. Corey and Marlene Lilly. Corey looks uncannily like Russell Brand and I was surprised when he spoke and his accent wasn’t British. He’s a really kind and mellow guy. He finds and picks up sand dollars with his feet. He brought one over to show us. I’ve never seen a live one… Corey also stopped by Alex’s sand digging extravaganza and talked to him and his dad.  And remembered his name.  These surfers, these volunteers, are brilliant at making each person feel wonderful about the experience.  Alex had a good second outing with Corey and Marlene and he was definitely more relaxed and chomping at the bit to get back in the water! After this we had lunch. Alex’s Oma (my mom) showed up just before he went for his 2nd paddle. We were so excited that she came by to see him surf!

That is my kid STANDING UP and SURFING and nobody is holding onto him! He stood up from his paddling/kneeling position, unaided, with the board gliding toward shore! I know! I was doing fine most of the day but that was it. I let my camera drop around my neck, started flapping my hands and started to cry some very happy tears and cheering loudly. His guides from the 3rd outing are not seen here but they were two guys named Jeff and Jim (or Bill. Spoken language keeps getting more challenging for me over time. It sucks, but it’s also a positive because it makes me more sensitive and aware when delivering any information to Alex who has a similar challenge).

I made this for him today:

Yeah.  I’m still getting goosebumps when I think about him surfing into the shore, with his hands out.  He amazed me.  He amazes me each and every day and has since he was born.  It’s not that I think he can’t do something, because he can do nearly anything he puts his mind to.  That being said, he can’t be neurotypical and neither can I.  We can put on an act that works in some situations, but that’s not us.  Surfers For Autism  has an incredible calm to it, that I rarely feel when with anyone other than my kid or by myself.   The reason for the calm, in a very large group of autistic people and their families, is that everyone there can just be themselves.  We pulled up to the lot next to Crescent Beach Park and I saw 5 kids in maybe 15 feet of sidewalk flapping and walking tiptoed.  I said, “It’s going to be a good day”.

And it was a good day.  It was the best day we’ve had in a very long time.  We deserved that and I will treasure that feeling probably forever, though we will have days to match once the 2013 Surfers For Autism season kicks off.

xo

B

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6 Responses to “Surfers For Autism”

  1. Colleen November 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Words can not express the joy we experienced as volunteers!! See you next year!! XOXO

  2. Marlene Lilly November 6, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Alex ROCKS!!!!! I am the girl in red whose name you could not remember (my fault because I was so excited to take Alex in the water that I probably forgot to say my name). I totally understand sensory overload as that was a perfect example of mine, Lol. I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to help out and Im already looking forward to next year. Alex, you wonderful wave ridin” dude! Make sure you look me up next year and in the meantime… keep your paddle deep (you go faster that way).

    • Bek November 6, 2012 at 2:52 am #

      Marlene Lilly! Thanks for posting! I was so excited for him to get in the water too and probably forgot to ask!
      He was so comfortable with you guys. He’s typically fearful of strangers and usually won’t say as much as a “Hello” and he gets really quiet and holds onto me. I think it’s a testament to you, and the whole Surfers for Autism experience, that he felt secure enough to let go of my hand and jump into a totally new experience with joy and enthusiasm. That is some kind of wonderful.
      We will definitely keep an eye out for you! I’m hoping we can make it to more events next year.
      And now I will never forget your name!
      Take care! Thanks again for such a fantastic day!

      • Marlene Lilly November 6, 2012 at 10:41 am #

        Bek, You are too kind. I was so thrilled to see your blog. I recognized him right away in the pic you posted. Alex is one very memorable little guy! I will never forget him. This was my first year to get to volunteer and I was pleasantly suprized at how quickly most of the kids joined right in. Maybe its the calm, loving acceptance of the ocean that they were responding to…I am just so grateful for the chance to be there and experience his glow and that killah smile!

  3. Debbie Geipel November 6, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    This was beautiful. You captured what many fathers, mothers, aunts and families have experienced through this experience. Thank you for sharing your story. Next year will be Epic as Don would say. I plan on being at every event I can. They dates will be the first thing I add to my calendar.
    Debbie Geipel Aunt of Stash my amazing surfer boy!

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