Kids with High Functioning Autism Sail into Self-Esteem

Too often, kids with disabilities are left out of the picture when it comes to just being kids and having some fun and support with recreation.  Kids with autism are left out of the equation more than kids with most other disabilities.


One company has set out to change all that.  The Brendan Sail Training Program in
Annapolis, MD has opened new doors for children with autism and their families.  The program sponsors a camp that teaches children with high functioning autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder how to sail. 


Though many children with autism have a difficult time with social skills and learning from books or in a classroom, they do very well with many hands-on activities, so sailing is a great activity for them.


The camp was founded by a businessman from
Washington, D.C. who recognized the fact that his own child – who had learning disabilities – was gaining self confidence and self esteem through sailing.  In fact, the child did so well that he was able to help train older sailors and crew members.  Dad said that he had confidence that he did not show when doing anything else.  Out of that experience, the Brendan Sail Training Program was started.


Since that time, many parents have seen their children blossom in a similar way and have seen them complete the program and graduate.  For graduation, these sailors take their families out for a sail, the icing on the cake for everyone. 


One junior sailor is quoted as saying that ‘no one labels you here.  Everyone is nice to you.”  That statement alone puts it all into perspective, especially for children struggling with autism, which gets them labeled repeatedly because of what they might do or not do.


You never know where fun, support and positive experiences will come from, and you never know what will enhance self esteem.  By all accounts, sailing has been an unexpected gift to these children and their families.  Hopefully we will see more programs like this in more areas of the country as well.

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