Sunday, May 16, 2010

ASD on the High Seas (well, at least the Lake in Central Park)

Today we took to the water. . . Henry and I met up with our friends Claire, Milo and Sasha (and Chad, the wonder service dog that I have written about before (here and here)). Claire and her boys have gone kayaking/rowing in Central Park several times this spring and invited us along for today's outing. Henry had been rowing with his dad before but had never been in a kayak (and I suspect that he probably did not do much rowing when he was in the boat with Cliff) but he was game.

Claire and I (and Chad!) were in a rowboat and each of the boys had his own kayak (pictured are Henry in his yellow kayak and Milo in his red kayak). Henry picked it up right away - I was so proud! He and Milo and Sasha zipped around in the kayaks while Claire rowed us around (I took the oars for a bit; in short, to say that I don't have an Olympic rowing medal in my future would be an understatement - but it was fun!). Henry took a brief break, pulling up to our boat and, while I held the kayak, climbing in to the rowboat to rest (while we used Chad's leash to drag the kayak behind us) - luckily after a few minutes he climbed back into the kayak - VERY carefully - and was off like a shot.

One of the highlights of the outing was Milo, pulling into a little inlet surrounded by huge, inviting rocks on which people were lunching, and sharing with everyone his story of having an autism service dog, and how Chad helps him. Milo is truly an ambassador for autism service dogs - he is so articulate and matter of fact about sharing his story. One of those in "attendance" was a woman whose dog is trained as a therapy dog - very cool that she just happened to be there and totally got what Chad is all about.

For those who live in NYC or who may be visiting, boat rentals at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park (near the 79th Street entrance on the Eastside) are a bargain ($12/hr/boat ($2.50 for each add'l 15 minutes after the first hour (the add'l charge is figured upon your return based on your time stamped receipt) with a $20 refundable deposit). Out on the water you feel like you have left NYC, though you can admire the beautiful buildings like the Dakota and the San Remo, visible from the lake. This is a really fun family activity. They have only a few kayaks (maybe only three) so if you have your heart set on those, come early. We got there at noon, got all three kayaks and the lake was not too crowded. When we left at 1:30 a line was forming. This is definitely something we will do again soon!

Autism and the Arts Conference/June 25 & 26

The arts can be a powerful tool in working with children on the autism spectrum. Michael Pizzi, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, founded an organization, Touching Humanity, to help get that message out and now Touching Humanity is putting on the its first conference: Creative, Expressive and Performing Arts and Autism, June 25 & 26, 2010 in New York City. The conference has a full slate of speakers relating to all aspects of the arts and autism and there is content appropriate for parents and other caregivers as well as professionals working with children on the spectrum. If you are in NYC at the end of June, do check it out.