Volunteers and instructors across the UK can now access new guidance designed to help ensure that people with autism have the best possible experience when getting out on the water.

RYA Sailability have released a ‘Guide to Autism and Boating’ which is full of practical strategies to assist those working directly with sailors on the autistic spectrum and has been developed with the help of organisations, parents and sailors.

“Boating is fun, social, challenging, helps to build character and develop key life skills. We absolutely don’t want people with autism to miss out on those benefits.” explains RYA Sailability Manager Joff McGill.

“The guidance has been developed to help others to understand the impact and the challenges autistic sailors maybe facing when arrive at a sailing venue including heightened anxiety, different sensory experiences and difficulties with flexibility of thought and communication. It also provides clear examples of what can be done to ensure they are able to enjoy getting afloat”.

Murray MacDonald from Autism on the Water is on the autistic spectrum and has supported this project, writing the foreword in the guide.

He said: “The moment I step onto a boat I become myself completely. Whether that’s socialising on someone else’s boat, going for a quick motor to test the engine or lining up at the start of a big 30 boat regatta. I become more confident with eye contact to speak to people, I basically just come alive”.

“I hope this guide helps volunteers, instructors and coaches see what they can do differently to help autistic people become sailors. If you are open from the start, things can work really well”.

Along with the guide there is also a video that includes a series of interviews with autistic sailors and parents providing insights into the benefits of sailing for those on the autistic spectrum.  

If you would like more information on autism and boating please contact RYA Sailability.

To find out more about sailing opportunities for disabled people, or those that need specific support to get on-the-water visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability.