Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The #ExecutiveFunction #Surfing Analogy


Every surfer in the water who has been surfing for many years understands that there is a point in time and place when a wave is approaching and the option to paddle over it, attempt to catch it, or altogether get out of the way has to be made. Rapid fire executive function skills come into play, such as gauging, foresight, prioritization, impulse control, goal-directed persistence and even emotional control. What will the surfer do? Are they lined up to catch the wave successfully? Are they too far to paddle over the wave and then have to take evasive maneuvers, like 'duck-diving' under the white, foamy break water? But what about when the wave is too big? What about when the surfer is in the break zone, their is a new set of waves coming, and they are too deep in the wave-break zone to do much about it? What then?

All these question must be addressed by the individual in split seconds. Multiple executive function skills come into play, or cascade with each other in collaboration demanding critical decision making. Not deciding is a decision and that means staying in 'no man's land'... the wave-break zone! In this movable place, your energies are sucked out and you gain no progress. In fact, you open yourself up to the mercy of pounding waves, and waves are water with energy. Their is no 'mercy.' Their is just the wave, their is you, and hopefully, your board with a leash.

Life is like surfing many a times. How we learn from experience, mistakes, bad judgement calls all coalesce to situate us for the wave line-up, or more wave-break zone 'fun-time.'

What will you do today with your day? Where do you choose to be in the scheme of things?
It is easy for a typical person to make smart decisions, but not always so for a child or adult with autism. A big purpose of my professional work is to expose these individuals to incredibly strenuous activities like surfing to rapidly develop their executive function skills, their sense of accomplishment, and their ability to have a higher quality of life.

'Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.'

-Sir Winston Churchill


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