Gnome Surf, a Little Compton-based non-profit organization, has long provided a way for children with developmental disabilities to feel inclusive and personally fulfilled through surfing. For those unfamiliar with this surf therapy organization, its founder, Christopher Antao, explained how surfing is a metaphor for life.
“It’s about surfing, isn’t it? But at the end of the day what we really teach kids is how to get off that surfboard and get back up right away,” he said. he declares.
Antao grew up his whole life with undiagnosed ADHD and always struggled to cope.
“I am not autistic, but working with children who are, I have realized that a lot of what autistic people feel is very similar to the tension I felt growing up,” he said. -he declares. “I was convinced, from that point on, to do whatever I could to help remove that feeling from their lives.”
Antao said that some non-verbal children can be quite impatient at times.
“When we take them out in the water, they start to realize that they need to be more patient for the next wave to come, and that translates into other things in their lives that require patience,” he said. he declared.
He said the feeling they get after their first wave on a surfboard can resonate with other first-time experiences.
“You can see their sense of accomplishment after riding the wave, and it’s the opening of the door that begins as they start to come back,” Antao said.
Parents swear by Gnome Surfing, telling Antao that their children sleep much better and appear much happier, more confident, and capable.
“We meet the children on the beach on their individual level,” he said. “Everyone is scared at first, but we really take our time. Sometimes the whole session to put them in the water, because we believe that each child is unique and that their differences do not make them less.”
Gnome Surf and Christopher Antao help kids with over 97% success rate.
“I try to reach as many families as possible who are dealing with children with a form of intellectual disability that Gnome Surfing can shed some light on,” he said.
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