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Surfing the Spectrum

A diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder is usually associated with substantial lifetime costs to an individual, their family and the community. In a 2014 study in Western Australia the median family cost of ASD was estimated to be AUD $34,900 per annum with almost 90% of the sum ($29,200) due to loss of income from employment.

Only a parent of a child with Autism or special needs can ever truly understand the struggles, the financial commitment of raising a child with Autism and while NDIS now offers some relief for the cost of therapeutic services, it is the lost wages, employment loss and the ongoing time and commitment of the parents that is something they cannot get back. Parents are now seeking alternatives, and they have been knocking at the door of the surf community in Newcastle for some time now, and we want to offer them the support they are looking for.

We believe the solution is in a community run and lead surf therapy initiative. Aquatic programs offer necessary physical activity opportunities to children with disabilities and the benefits of aquatic activities are often more pronounced for children with disabilities than for their able-bodied peers. Adapted surfing programs can help to develop and enhance the children's strength, flexibility, range of motion, coordination, balance, and psychosocial development (such as social skills, communication skills and mental wellbeing). In Newcastle surfing has become a popular therapeutic tool used by the families of children with Autism, and the testimonials we have been receiving over the years from parents are currently the strongest evidence we could possible have.

Funded by Newcastle (March 2018)