Managing Editor's Note: I've had the pleasure of meeting Alison McNeil, a true Mother Warrior for her son Nick. Husband Dave is a Father Warrior too. You can visit the Surfer's Healing RI blog HERE to read more about the event held yesterday, September 19th, 2009.
By Alison McNeil
We spent today at Surfer's Healing in Narragansett, RI. Something about the juxtaposition of phenomenal athletes with complete understanding of Autism confidently getting my screaming four year old onto a surfboard and the emotional impact of sharing the beach with one hundred children with Autism (and that's 100 vaccine injured children in my opinion) left me awestruck.
I was amazed over and over again as I watched intensely disabled children struggle to get to the shoreline and then relax onto the board as the surfers paddled them out and let them feel the peacefulness of resting and floating in the water. And then to see, severely autistic children, doing all their necessary accommodating behaviors-scripting, galloping, stimming on the beach stand up and glide in on their surfboards with looks of triumphant pride on their faces. I cried every time.
My son found it pretty scary and took his typical three hour beach nap after his turn. But I will take him again the second the chance comes. My NT daughter, eight, thought the day was unfair, "why is everything for kids with Autism", she grumbled on the way home. Which led to a pretty serious conversation about how actually almost everything in the world isn't set up for kids with Autism.
The entire event is free, food is donated, wetsuits and life jackets.All you need to do is show up. I would encourage you to. These people get Autism and yet they move you beyond it so fast. I was all ready to give some schpeel about how Nick was scared and would need this and that, etc...when this amazing surfer just gently scooped him into a bear hug and off they went to surf. It was a stretch for both of us, for me to let him go, to trust this beautiful stranger with my child, and for him to try something so new and foreign to him.
I was putting his jammies on a little while ago and I asked him what he thought of the whole thing and he said, "And Nick was O.K." with his proud face on. Thank you Surfer's Healing.
Alison MacNeil is the mom of two kids. Her four year old son, Nick was lost into Autism after the final assault of his 15 month vaccines. She is a Clinical Social Worker at new Developmental Collaborative at NESCA, in Newton MA and a Rescue Angel.