Autism on the beach

John Estrada


“If I could talk, I would tell you that right know I’m having a great time. Why?, because you took me to the beach, dad. I found it easy to feel and express joy, happiness, and excitement when I’m stimulated by all the sensory information I get here. Do you want me to share them with you?; Great, here it goes!

When we are in the car getting closer to the beach that you usually take me I began to feel excited, but it is when you open the door and the salty smell hit me, that I have an assurance about where you are taking me. Then we walk towards an immense area filled with water, which for some reason doesn’t stay still and makes a very loud but intriguing noise. Then, in order to get there we have to walk on soft and worm sand, which for an unknown reason changes in temperature and consistency as we approach the water. Finally I get near the water and then…; are you looking at me dad?, I’m playing catch-me-if-you-can with the water! This is awesome! I forget about everything else, I feel alive and free. Thanks dad for bringing me here”.

You’re right, that’s my son’s feelings being expressed through the eyes of his father. At least that’s how I saw it the last time I took him to the beach. Since he can’t talk, I can only try to interpret his feeling by his expressions and his behavior, which I do every now and then. At first I was very concerned and worried about him not being verbal, and was anxious to find something that would make him talk. Time has passed and I’ve come to realize that what’s important is that he learns to communicate in one way or another.

It’s amazing how he teaches me every time that we are together, to pay attention to the little details and to things that we usually take for granted. For me it was just a day at the beach, but for him it seemed to be like an amusement park, were he can’t stop laughing and jumping. I do have to watch over him carefully though. He focuses so much in his delight that slowly moves far away from me. He sometimes unintentionally throws sand to other people; you know, to the ones that lay down to get a suntan. He could get confused about where our lunch bag is and may try to take food from other people, or he could runs behind any dog that’s being walked on the beach. Besides that, I can pretty much hear to my heavy metal music on the iTouch, read a VW magazine, or just sat there and watch him have a good time.

Courtesy of John Estrada


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