By Ashley Baccante
Surfing is a way of life for most people who grow up near the coast, and for many of those surfing lovers they pass their passion on to their children. Israel Paskowitz, a surfing lover, passed his love of surfing onto his son, but for him it became a form of therapy.
The founders of Surfers Healing, Israel and Danielle Paskowitz have a son with autism. Isaiah, now 22, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Because of his disorder he often suffered from sensory overload, which meant that simple sensations overwhelmed him. With little to no information available to them, Israel and his wife, Danielle were at a loss as it what to do.
Disclosing the struggles with his son and his behavior, he recalls the day when his son’s behavior seemed unbearable and so Israel put him at the front of his board and paddled out to sea. “This was one way I could deal with his behavior, it was not a cure all, but I know in the water he felt better, he was comfortable, he was weightless, he was surrounded by the ocean and he felt better,” said Israel.
The experience led him to share his story and it would later blossom into a non-profit organization which travels around the countries coast lines to host day camps at the beach for autistic children and their families. These beach day camps have turned into a non-profit organization that is now well known around the country called Surfers Healing.
Taking this disorder head on, Surfers Healing’s goal is “to enrich the lives of people living with autism by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing”. Helping children one wave at a time, their efforts have reached across the nation.
“I am the furthest thing from an expert… but I have an infinite amount of street experience with my own son,” said Israel.
The camps do not charge their surfers and each year volunteer-staffed camps give over 4,500 children with autism and their families a fun, engaging day at the beach.