Surf Group Changing Lives of Autistic Children

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The water has wonderful healing properties.  For a few brief moments in 2009, with his brothers nearby, among a group of other children with Autism, I remember Mike was transformed into a fearless surfer under the guidance of Surf Pal, a charitable group that helped children on the Spectrum connect with the waves.  I like to think that summer day helped Mike enjoy the beach more; he always liked the sand to dig and play in, but now he enjoys jumping waves and body surfing.  If you ever get the chance to participate in ‘surf therapy’, jump at the opportunity; it is well worth it.

Jacob Wolf frowns, cups his hands over his ears to shut out the clamor of the world, and stares fixedly at the ground as he navigates the playground.

His father touches his shoulder, then holds his angelic face and waits for the 10-year-old to focus.

“What do you do on the ocean, Jacob?” Robert Wolf asks.

The frown changes to a grin.

“Surf!” he answers quickly, snapping into surfing position and waving his arms to demonstrate.

“What is the best part?”

“Riding the waves!” he crows, his arms flailing.

“And what do you say when it is over?”

Jacob answers without hesitation.

“Again!” he says.

Three years ago, Jacob would not have been able to assemble those thoughts. Jacob has autism, a developmental disability affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social development.

Robert Wolf will tell you it affects physical development, too, and it’s a near miracle that Jacob can surf.

But Jacob is not alone. Every year for five years, Surfers for Autism has gathered with dozens of volunteers at Deerfield Beach and helped children with autism spectrum disorder enjoy the ocean in a way they could not have imagined.


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