« Back

Dr. Rabatsky lends hand to Surfers for Autism

9/3/2010 (Archived)

Florida Campus assistant professor Ali Rabatsky, Ph.D., has been surfing nearly all his life, but his experience on August 29 has left a lasting impression on him. Dr. Rabatsky joined a crew of more than 100 volunteers at Winterhaven Park in Ponce Inlet, where dozens of autistic children and their families from across the state came out for a Surfers for Autism benefit event to teach the communication-challenged kids to ride the waves.

Dr. Rabatsky, who also coordinates the Surf Club on campus, was ebullient in describing his experience.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life”, he said. "I learned about autism and how to communicate in ways I am not accustomed to.”

The focus of Surfers for Autism is to eliminate stigma through public awareness and education and to unite communities through volunteerism.

“I hope to be able to recruit some of my students for next year’s event,” added Dr. Rabatsky. “I think it would be very beneficial for them to learn about autism and to interact with autistic kids.”

The local event was not about finding a cause or a cure; it was about finding a respite from a challenging disorder. Surfers for Autism’s communications director Dave Rossman, shook his head when asked what it was about surfing that appealed to kids with autism.

“That’s the million-dollar question," Rossman said. “It has to do with the calming effect of the ocean. It does that for all of us.”

fl - sfa

Dr. Rabatsky, with surfboard, hits the surf with Benjamin.