Surfers For Autism Teach Special Needs Kids

By  //  June 13, 2012

special needs children

EDITOR’S NOTE:‘s videographer John Ross extends a special thanks to Don Ryan of and all the volunteers.

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA — The Fourth Annual Space Coast Surfers For Autism was held on Saturday June 2 at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach.

The Surfers For Autism organization is a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit group dedicated to the introduction of the sport of surfing to children with special needs.

At a Surfers For Autism event, surfers are provided a safe environment where two to four highly skilled and trained surf instructors carefully guide them the children into waves.

The surfers and their families are treated like rock stars and enjoy a day filled with a range of activities including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, live music, face-painting, games, fire engine tours and much more. (John Ross image)

The surfers and their families are treated like rock stars and enjoy a day filled with a range of activities including stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, live music, face-painting, games, fire engine tours and much more. A catered lunch is also provided, all at no cost.

This is a very special day where children with ASD and related disabilities interact with typical peers and wow families with their capabilities. These events are examples of inclusion at the highest level.

Mission Statement

The Surfers For Autism mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental delays, support advocacy for autism issues and scientific research. It’s focus is to eliminate stigma through public awareness and education and to unite communities through volunteerism.


It was December of 2007 when a simple idea was presented to a small group of South Florida surfers by a member whose life and family have been touched by autism.

The concept of introducing children on the autism spectrum to surfing took hold and the group began planning for the inaugural Deerfield Beach event.

Fundraising efforts help to fulfill the mission of bringing these life-changing events to as many communities as possible and to help fund autism research, awareness and advocacy.

Fundraising would be conducted by soliciting local businesses to donate product and services for a raffle and through the sale of event specific T-shirts.

On April 5, 2008, the inaugural Surfers For Autism event was held on the north side of the Deerfield Beach Pier where 40 surfers with autism hit the water and over $10,000 was raised to benefit autism associated charities.

The organization has since hosted events in several locations on Florida’s East Coast, and single events have registered as many as 200 surfers and raised close to $20,000.

According to Wikipedia

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.

Alters How Nerve Cells and Synapses Connect

The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.

The community turned out to support autism awareness. (John Ross image)

It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.

Strong Genetic Basis

Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ASD is explained more by rare mutations, or by rare combinations of common genetic variants.In rare cases, autism is strongly associated with agents that cause birth defects.

Autism is a disease with no known cure (Image by Shutterstock)

Controversies surround other proposed environmental causes, such as heavy metals, pesticides or childhood vaccines; the vaccine hypotheses are biologically implausible and lack convincing scientific evidence.

The prevalence of autism is about 1–2 per 1,000 people worldwide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report 11 per 1,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with ASD as of 2008.

The number of people diagnosed with autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice; the question of whether actual prevalence has increased is unresolved.

Usually Noticed In The First Two Years Of Life    

Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. The signs usually develop gradually, but some autistic children first develop more normally and then regress. Early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help autistic children gain self-care, social, and communication skills.

Although there is no known cure,there have been reported cases of children who recovered. Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though some become successful. An autistic culture has developed, with some individuals seeking a cure and others believing autism should be accepted as a difference and not treated as a disorder.



  1. What an awesome thing to do for the kids and families of this disease.
    Loved the video…and everyone looked like they were having fun.
    Thank you…

  2. Thank you for bringing this all together! It was awesome to see the kids
    faces truly enjoying the surfing experience!

  3. Really this is beautiful tip for kids and family they are enjoying together with lots of fun. And thanks for this video to help us for enjoying with kids in vacations.

    Kids Activities

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