On Saturday, August 11th, the Autism Society of Santa Barbara partnered with the Santa Barbara Seals for their annual Surf & Beach Day at Campus Point. My son, Theo, doesn’t have an autism diagnosis but the event was open to all children with disabilities and their families. Since we know so many of those families and since Theo loves the beach we thought we’d go and hang out with our friends. I had no intention of getting him involved in
the surfing activities. After all, he’s…ummm…well…too disabled!! Okay, I didn’t really articulate it that way but I guess that’s kind of what I was thinking. I struck up a conversation with one of the SB Seals representatives and she seemed to think that Theo’s issues wouldn’t be a problem and I should talk to JP, the director of SB Seals. I told him how Theo is non-verbal, doesn’t follow directions, has seizures…and so on. He didn’t even flinch. He just grabbed a board, called a fellow Seal over to assist and paddled off with Theo securely in his arms. I wasn’t far behind, standing in the water watching my little guy prove to me that he isn’t so little anymore. After a little squirming and shifting, Theo was sitting with his legs crossed on the board when JP caught a good sized wave, jumped on the back, arms around Theo, and they coasted in to shore. I could have burst with happiness seeing my son enjoying every little California boy’s rite of passage. I ran to him and gave him a big hug but JP wasn’t done with him yet. “Do you think he wants to go again?” he asked. Really? You’ll take him again? And off they went for another ride on the waves. Later on that day he had another ride and after that, he was spent. Happily wiped out, face planted in the sand. My son is perfect in almost every way except one. He’s a lousy sleeper. Well thanks to his surf day we didn’t have that problem that night. He (and I) slept like a rock. And I learned an invaluable lesson that I seem to keep learning again and again – my son may have some challenges but he doesn’t have any limitations. He may not speak but he can tell me a lot. I just need to pay attention and believe in his A-bilities.
Post by Jennifer Griffin, Resource Coordinator at Alpha