How Surfing is Therapeutic For Children with Autism

When I volunteered at a surfing for autism event with a simple goal: to impact the lives of the participants with autism. But I had no idea that it would impact my life.

Like most families and volunteers, I will never forget that day. Attend a surf therapy event and you’re bound to see children with autism riding waves to shore as a crowd cheers and claps; you’ll see those not receptive to touch holding the hands of volunteers; you’ll hear children diagnosed as “nonverbal” speaking words and so much more. Plus, with this form of therapy, there’s no co-pay required.

Surf therapy has gained momentum in recent years, with organizations sprouting up in coastal beach towns around the world. These organizations, along with the families who attend surf events, claim that not only is surfing is therapeutic—it’s a life changing. In order to find out why, I spent years with families and their children on the autism spectrum, examining just how surfing has changed their lives as well as the science behind it all.

The result is the book Waves of Healing: How Surfing is Therapeutic for Children with Autism, published by Hatherleigh Press in partnership with Penguin Random House.

The book tells stories about the struggles children with autism face—the struggle to stand on a surfboard, the struggle to communicate, the struggle to make progress in a world which accepts “normal” and rejects all else. But they’re also stories of breakthroughs, of authentic joy and unbridled excitement as they learn to see their world from a whole new perspective—standing tall atop a surfboard, riding a wave all their own.

“Often, it’s difficult to understand the everyday struggles and small milestones that families raising a child with autism face, but Cash Lambert’s firsthand ride-along—both on land and in the sea—truly puts their lives into perspective. A deeply honest and eloquent account, Waves of Healing is a story of hope, and a discovery of what the therapeutic power of the ocean—and organizations like Surfers For Autism—can do.”

—Beau Flemister, former editor-at-large of Surfing Magazine and author of In the Seat of a Stranger’s Car

Exploring new avenues of therapy for those with autism, with therapeutic and extraordinary results, Waves of Healing is a snapshot of hope, courage, and human perseverance.

Not only did I see an autism community changed by the transformative power of the ocean and surfing—I realized that by volunteering, by giving yourself to a cause, you receive just as much in return as the participants do.

Waves of Healing: How Surfing Changes the Lives of Children with Autism is available in bookstores around the world, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Wal Mart, and Target.

Author, Cash Lambert

Cash Lambert is a former Editor for Hawaii’s Freesurf Magazine. He currently lives on Oahu’s North Shore. His articles have been featured in ESPN Outdoors, Surfing Magazine, Eastern Surf Magazine, the Outdoor Channel, Surfline, Stab Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine, The Atlantic Current, Flux and more. While pursuing his undergraduate degree at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Cash was awarded with the Bodie McDowell Scholarship from the Outdoor Writers Association of America for his editorial work. A graduate from PBA’s School of Communication and Media, he majored in Journalism. He served as a volunteer and surf instructor with Surfers for Autism for four years.