Being a parent of children with autism is something of a science. Our kids are creatures of habit and even the simplest changes to their routine can trigger meltdowns. This is why making a big trip to Surfers Healing takes careful planning.
While the volunteers are wonderful and will do everything they can to ensure we all have a beautiful experience, it’s up to us as parents to prepare our kids. There are a lot of things about Surfers Healing that are unexpected: staying in a strange place, eating meals at different times, the crowds of families gathered on the beach, as well as the general chaos of travel. And if they’re waitlisted, it’s important to prepare them for the possibility that they may not surf.
We begin a couple months in advance. We know that the trip will be longer than they’re used to, so we begin by taking them on day trips. We also try to stay the night at different places so they can try sleeping in unusual surroundings, even if it’s just grandma’s house.
Social media has become a useful tool for exposing our kids to the adventure that is Surfers Healing. We show them the crowds, the sounds of the beach, the surfers. It gives them an understanding that this week will be exciting and totally different. We turn everything into pictures and stories, from the car ride to the waves. If your child is currently in Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, this is something with which they can be of extraordinary help.
Surfers Healing has become our favorite day of the year. We want to give our kids the best opportunity we can to enjoy every second of it and prepare them to make memories that will last a lifetime.
If you would like to support Surfers Healing, you can use code SURFER when you order popcorn, and 50% of your purchase will go toward helping them continue to provide these incredible camps free to kids with autism.
Mark and Cassandra have been an unstoppable duo for 10 years. They have four beautiful kids Ashlynne, Aerabella, Mikel, and Alexis. Both Ashlynne and Aerabella have an autism diagnosis. Mark is currently in college where he is studying special education.