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Today, I thought I would share with you some of the issues living with an Autistic adult on board a boat creates and which are ongoing throughout our journey. The most important thing to remember is that Autism is the problem and not the person themselves. I have struggled alot with this and sometimes have to take a step back and look at things differently when it comes to living with Autism. The problem always has been how do you teach someone who does not seem to want to learn! No matter how hard you try they don’t give a response!!! Well the answer is you still try and on some rare occassions you get a glimmer of the person inside and this is the proof and the reward for never giving up!!
Sam our son has no speech, and very little communication skills, he is not toilet trained and needs help in every facet of his life, and yet we choose to take him sailing!!!
Why? Because he is part of our family and our family is not a family without him!!!!! The task is harder than most but our life of caring has not changed since we moved on to the boat. We still need to shower and change him and feed him and provide constant support, same as we have for 20 years on land. The environment has changed but the situation has not.
Actually some things have changed, he gets to spend a lot more time in close contact with us, he is experiencing his environment in a raw and sometimes confronting way, he has to manourve his body in a more concise way, his body has to adjust and balance, and he has to deal with new things and experiences on a daily basis. This is probably the hardest thing for Autistic people as they do not like change very much and tend to store anxiety and stress. Sam is prone to anxiety attacks and we deal with them as they come along. I don’t think he has much control over them, the attacks contol him. It’s interesting though that since being on the boat the attacks have wained a little. I think the gentle movement of the water has a calming effect.
Autism has definately had a huge impact on our lives, it has changed it beyond our control, but it has given us the chance to look at life in a different way, to be thankful for what we have, to never judge, to have compassion and unconditional love and to live life!!!!!!
Thats why we are sailing!

2 Responses
  1. Haley Hawkins says:

    Joey Lou, Peter Pan loves never never land and loves to fights pirates, and hang 10 with the other lost boys. Wendy is the enduring,strong, sensible one. Thing is your flying! – not sailing – spirits soar remember ! – you didn’t forget how to fly wendy! You just remembered how to live……Tinkerbell turn the page…… love forever Haley ellen

  2. susie says:

    Beautiful Jo – I hope, even though it has been very wet, Sam is really enjoying his new life. Wonderful reading. xoxox Susie

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