Dr. Rabatsky lends hand to Surfers for Autism
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
“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
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
million-dollar question," Rossman said. “It has to do with the calming effect of
the ocean. It does that for all of us.”
Dr. Rabatsky, with surfboard, hits the
surf with Benjamin.