"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it."
~ Swedish Proverb, from Dr. Robert Melillo's book, "Reconnected Kids"

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Surfers Healing

Greetings everyone! I know, it's been a while…AGAIN! We've been caught up in the madness of back to school for the last few weeks. I am EXTREMELY happy to report that the first week of school for the big boys was a SMASHING success! Here they are, on the first day of school (2nd Grade for Aidan, and Pre-K for Aeson)

Aren't my boys handsome? Love those new haircuts too!

And here they are, coming home on the bus, later that same day! (And no, Aidan did NOT fall off the bus!)

Ash starts preschool this week, and we are all very excited! ALL three boys in school, at least for three mornings a week - YAY!

So, I would like to share with everyone Aidan's recent adventure with Surfers Healing, at Folly Beach, SC on August 22, 2012.

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Have you heard of Surfers Healing? Here is the history of Surfer's Healing, taken directly from their website:
Surfers Healing was founded by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz. Their son, Isaiah, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Like many autistic children, he often suffered from sensory overload - simple sensations could overwhelm him. The ocean was the one place where he seemed to find respite.

A former competitive surfer, Israel hit upon an idea--with Isaiah on the front of his surfboard, and Izzy steering from the back, the two spent the day surfing together. Surfing had a profound impact on Isaiah. Israel and Danielle decided they wanted to share this unique therapy with other autistic children. They began to host day camps at the beach where autistic children and their families could be exposed to a completely new experience of surfing.

I could sum up our experience with Surfers Healing with this one photo:
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Look at that smile - I see SO much in that smile. Freedom, peace, pride, and pure JOY! What you can't see and hear from that photo are the surfers and spectators cheering, clapping, and whistling - not just for Aidan, but for ALL of the little surfers in the water. Somewhere around 200 kids had their BEST DAY EVER on Folly Beach, thanks to the quiet determination and giant hearts of everyone involved with Surfers Healing.

And, of course, I have more pictures!

We found out about Surfers Healing through Aidan's surf instructor, Yamada Atsushi (aka Hot Sushi). Sushi volunteers with Surfers Healing, and was thrilled to watch his student show off his mad skills with the pro surfers. Here's Sushi, watching Aidan like a proud papa!
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BEST Buds!
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We arrived at Folly Beach about 10am, and things were just getting started. Having never been to a Surfers Healing event, we didn't really know what to expect (and by the end of the day, we were completely amazed!) Surfers+Healing+Folly+Beach+8 22 12 17

The day started out overcast, but soon became absolutely beautiful!
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We got Aidan signed in, and he was given a group number for surfing and a gift bag. The gift bag had an event T-shirt and some small toys in it. AWESOME! While we waited for Aidan's group to be called to surf, we hung with my girl Blaze (of The Thinking Moms Revolution) and watched her awesome son P tear it up!
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Here is how it works: when your group is called to surf, you head over to the surf station and the Surfers Healing folks take it from there. They fit your surfer with a life vest, and lead them to the water to meet up with their pro surfer. The pro surfers take the kids out in the water, and ride the waves back in to shore. The pros do EVERYTHING possible to give each child the ride of their life - helping them to stand up and surf...
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or picking them up…
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I even saw a couple of surfers with kids on their shoulders.
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Aidan's pro surfer was Joe, and they headed right out into the water to catch some waves!
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After Aidan's session, lunch was ready. I wish I had taken some pictures - what a tremendous spread of food. ALL donated from local restaurants. And ALL free for the surfers and their families. TONS of fruit, veggies, fried chicken, mac and cheese, cole slaw, pasta salad - everything wasn't Gluten Free, of course, but I was pleasantly surprised with the variety of things that WERE GF. And there were plenty of sponsor tents, offering a selection of snacks for everyone (many of them GF as well). LOTS of water and lemonade to drink - surprisingly, I did not see any soda (which I think is GREAT!)
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During the lunch break, Aidan and I had the extreme pleasure of meeting the founder of Surfers Healing, Izzy Paskowitz. Izzy has a brand new autobiography that just came out called "Scratching the Horizon: A Surfing Life," which he was kind enough to autograph for Aidan. (I've just begun reading it, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far! Click the picture and pick up a copy for yourself.)
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Izzy took the time to really talk to everyone standing in line to meet him, which was great! Of course, he signed books and posed for photos too.
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Maybe one day, if Aidan's love of surfing becomes his passion, we can send him to surf with Izzy at his family's surf camp. How cool would THAT be??

After lunch, Aidan managed to talk his way into a 2nd surf session with his pro surfer, Joe. This time, Joe helped Aidan surf on his own! You could hear Sushi's whistle all the way down the beach, and Aidan had a BLAST!
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After Aidan's 2nd session, it was time to pack up and head back home. What an AMAZING day!

Surfers Healing offers children on the autism spectrum AND their families a stress-free and overwhelmingly positive day of surfing fun at the beach, at absolutely NO COST. Izzy and Danielle Paskowitz work tirelessly to secure permits for their events, sponsors (to provide equipment, food, raffle items, money, and other donations), professional surfers to donate their time, amazing volunteers, and probably about a million other things! Each year, Surfers Healing travels worldwide, up and down both U.S. coasts, Puerto Rico, and Canada, giving literally THOUSANDS of children their BEST DAY EVER! Please click the Surfers Healing logo above, and learn more about this non-profit organization. If you are able, financial donations are always appreciated, in any amount. You can also volunteer your time to help out at an event near you, which is also very much needed and appreciated. I think they are about finished with events for 2012, but the 2013 schedule should be out early next year, I think. If you have a child on the autism spectrum and would like to attend an event, check their website to see what surf camps are near you, and make sure you don't miss the sign up date for that event - the events fill up very quickly.

To Izzy and Danielle Paskowitz, and everyone involved with Surfers Healing, thank you for an amazing day at Folly Beach, SC. Aidan truly had the BEST DAY EVER, and we can't wait to surf with y'all again!

Much love,


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