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Autism, Asperger's, and...Surfing

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am

Educational Videographer Larry Loganbill who resides on Kauai sent me today's article from the Honolulu Star Bulletin on world class surfer Clay Marzo who has been diagnosed with Asperger's.  Marzo also works with kids in a free surf camp for kids with autism run by Israel Paskowitz in California called Surfers Healing. 

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Marzo's mother's comments are enlightening in terms of the ongoing debate about "who changes?" (the culture or the person with autism):

"He's not capable of conforming," says Clay's mother, Jill Marzo. "He's just capable of being him. And that's the beautiful thing. Nothing bothers him because he's in the moment. For years I tried to change him to fit in, but I've been forced to accept and live in the moment with him."

While we tend to think of people with Asperger's as having "special interests" or abilities outside of those involving physical activity, Marz0's case shows us something different.  His ability to focus intensely on surfing has made him, at age 19, one of the best in the world:

Adam Klevin, the cinematographer for "Just Add Water," notes that while most athletes' skills decline with fatigue, Clay can handle four surf sessions -- up to eight hours -- in a day. "And he never stops going bigger," Klevin says of Clay, who is renowned for his ability to take off late and rack up "an amazing percentage of tube rides." It's an intuitive rather than conscious pursuit, Klevin believes.

In the trailer for a new film about Clay Marzo, Tony Attwood appears saying "You don't suffer from Asperger's...you suffer from other people..."  The problem is not having Asperger's...the problem is 'other people.'"  Tony is on target:  People with ASD's have always made tremendous contributions to the planet, not just in science and the arts, but perhaps even...in surfing!  Here's the trailer for "Just Add Water:"

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