Monday, July 17, 2006

The great equalizer

Bud loves the water. All water. Any water. He loves to play with water balloons, with watering cans, in puddles, in the rain, with a sink full of water, in the bathtub, in pools, near streams, at the lake; Bud has never met a body of water he didn't like.

This weekend we made our annual trip to the ocean so Bud could ride the waves of the frosty Atlantic. Despite the high temperatures, the ocean breeze was chilly and the water was so cold that the only souls brave enough to actually submerge themselves appeared to be under the age of 13. I stood with the other cowardly parents shivering on the shore, feeling intrepid when the waves crashed over our feet.

We were there at high tide, and between the thunder of the crashing waves and the roar of the winds whipping off the water it was impossible to hear much of anything. So I watched Bud and the other children around him as they starred in their own silent movie.

Each child was in a world of his own, engaged in a struggle of kid vs. nature, some armed with boogie boards, some preferring to take on the waters with only their bare bellies for armor.

They each crashed into the waves, the water splashing into their faces and over their heads, and then sprang to their feet, startled by the cold, talking rapidly to themselves, shaking their arms and flapping their hands, hopping and staggering to warm themselves, then turning around to start again.

It's funny: so many parents of autistic children talk about their hope that someday their child will be indistinguishable from other children.

But as I watched Bud bobbing and weaving with the other children in that magical land of Atlantis it struck me: here, they have all become indistinguishable from him.


Alexander's Daddy said...

Wonderful post.

If you can swing the time next year, come to the North Carolina beaches. We went this year and the water was "toasty" warm and the greatest thing to me was that there weren't that many other people there. I hate crowds and touristy spots.

Kristina Chew said...

"Annual" trip to the ocean----will you go back?

It is the same with Charlie. He swims as well as, or even more so than, kids his age and older.

Once back on land, things are different----but the water is where we all came first, is it not?

Tara said...

The only place we seem to be getting any relief from the oppressive heat and humidity is at the ocean's edge. Glad Bud enjoyed himself with fellow swimmers!!

María Luján said...

Very nice post.
Did you receive an e-mail from me? I think perhaps it was lost. Please let me know.
Ma Luján

Zilari said...

Wow. I don't know if I'll succeed in putting this coherently into words, but this post is lovely in that it illustrates that many actions often considered "strange" (flapping, talking to onesself, etc.) are, in actuality, human things. And, I would even venture, appropriate behavior. :)

Mamaroo said...

I have actually had this same thought while observing kids playing at the ocean. It's true, we all seem to get lost in the beauty surrounding us while at the ocean's edge. The loud noise, taste of salt in the air, the soft breeze on our cheeks, we take it all in and tend to forget for a while. We focus on the sensory experience. This is a great post! The ocean allows the NT person to feel the similar peaceful, calm that many people with ASD most likely experience everyday. Roo LOVES the ocean, but can go into sensory overload sometimes while visiting the ocean. He has been much better this year, but once and a while he just gets caught up in the sensations and will take off running down the beach. When I chase after him, grab him and look into his eyes, it's like his eyes are lost in some far away place and it takes a moment for him to refocus on me.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I was thinking about blogging on my site about how wonderful it is for me and my PDD son to enjoy the sensory input from the waves in the Atlantic
-- and looked around to see if anyone else has had the same experience. Looks like we have! FYI, I'll be linking to you this morning! Thanks so much, Lisa Rudy ( Guide to Autism)