Surfers Healing is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Thousands of children with autism have benefited from the magical powers of waves and salted water.
Surfing is therapy for the mind. Lives have been changed because of the waves.
When Israel and Danielle Paskowitz founded Surfers Healing, they discovered that they were actually having a very positive impact on children living with autism.
At the age of three, Isaiah was diagnosed with autism, but his parents decided they wanted to improve his quality of life.
And when Israel got his son on the waves, everything changed.
"He'd always loved the water, always seemed more relaxed and more comfortable splashing around than he did on dry land," explains Izzy Paskowitz in "Scratching the Horizon."
"More like himself. But we never thought about the calming, soothing effects all that time in the water might have on his overall personality."
"It wasn't a cure-all for Isaiah, not by any stretch, but for the hours we were in the water, he was a different kid. He was attuned to his environment."
"He was laughing and happy. Mostly, he was calm."
A Growing Therapy
Initially, only a few parents would bring their autistic children to the beach. They loved the idea and felt notable improvements in their kids.
The word started spreading. Then came reporters, and then came sponsors.
Surfers Healing, a non-profit organization, kept growing and expanding in the American continent since it was founded in 1999.
Thousands of children with autism experience surfing in dozens of surf camps held every year.
Autism affects communication and social interaction. It is often noticed when children show repetitive behaviors and ultra-focused interests.
"Don't know when or how or why Danielle and I hit on the idea of formalizing what I was doing with these kids. It just kind of happened, took on its own momentum, and grew and grew."
"Without really realizing it, without really meaning to, we'd tapped into something bigger than Isaiah. Bigger than our own little family," concludes Israel Paskowitz.
Let the surf heal, on and on.