Surf Therapy Supporting Children Living on the Autism Spectrum
Photographer: Nic Bothma
'Waves for Change' is an organization that uses surfing as a form of therapy to help children who are on the autism spectrum. One out of every 59 children globally are diagnosed with some form of autism, and those affected often suffer from social anxiety and isolation.
The organization aims to provide a safe, inclusive space for these children away from school and their homes by having them join an inclusive and accepting community where they are taught coping skills, such as meditation and breathing techniques that help them emotionally regulate and reduce their social anxiety.
By assessing each child's ability and level of comfort, the coaches introduce them to the ocean and surfing. The weekly sessions are centered around fun, social interaction, a sense of belonging and access to a supportive mentor. In a gentle and non-judgmental way, the children learn to integrate into wider society, reducing levels of isolation.
Waves for Change provides a safe space, caring adults, a new and challenging task and skills to cope as well as manage their behavior and emotions. This helps reduce isolation and allows the children to be celebrated for who they are.