11-year-old Cameron is an Autistic young man with additional needs, and like many others with autism struggles with change and the regulation of emotions. The Lockdowns of 2020/2021 were undoubtedly a period of stress for many and a change of the norm. However, for Cameron, the lockdown was a period of calm, a time he could enjoy at home, a place he considers his comfort zone, and without the worries and the daily stresses of transitioning from home to school.
For Cameron, rather than the lockdown itself, it was the stress of going back to school, that caused flux, and the difficulty of returning to a world in recovery from Covid-19.
Sam, Cameron’s mum, first considered sailing when she reflected on the calmness her son has in the water when playing, actively swimming, or being submerged. It was an effect she was keen to recreate.
The first challenge was finding the right venue, but Sam was fortunate to live close to All-Aboard Watersports, and from the word go they were so helpful. Sam explained to the team about Cameron’s struggles and received information on the programmes on offer. All-Aboard were determined to support Cameron and invited Sam and Cameron to come down pre-session and have a 1-1 with the team.
On the first day, Cameron was anxious, and Sam was concerned that Cameron may shut down very quickly, but he didn’t he just sat quietly taking it all in, and afterwards, declared he loved it and wanted to do it again.
The next time we went out with Brian, and Cameron wanted to go on the para boats. He loved going fast and seeing the waves and how they moved. Sam recalls joking with Cameron that he would be driving them soon and he looked a little anxious at the prospect. However little did she know that 5 minutes down the river, and Brian would turn to Cameron and say: “ok you can drive now.” Cameron was so calm and collected, he just took it all in his stride, chatting away to Brian like he's known him for years.
The team at All Aboard have been so helpful, suggesting all the different things Cameron can try, including reversing and mooring the boats. It is the little things - like letting Cameron try a wetsuit on. Cameron like many others with Autism can be very particular about how clothes feel, and whilst he didn’t want to keep the wetsuit on, he didn’t get too stressed, instead he just calmly explained that he would like to get changed - something he never does.
All-Aboard has been incredibly considerate to Cameron’s needs, and thoroughly appreciative that Cameron doesn’t cope well with change. When high winds, put a session in doubt, All-Aboard contacted Sam to allow her time to prepare Cameron that the session may not be able to happen. Little things like this have made such a difference.
When we asked Cameron what he wanted to try next, he said he would quite like to try the paddle boards, he liked the powerboats and loves being able to drive, but isn’t too keen on the sailboats - he didn’t much like the bobbing sensation. To this Sam, agreed commenting: "he was quite green afterwards!"
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