Frequently Asked Questions - ASD Adaptive Kayaking

FAQs for our ASD adaptive kayaking programs
 Adaptive kayaking is a program for people with physical or developmental disabilities, where the instructors adapt the equipment, environment or teaching methods to the individual student’s needs, so they can be successful in a recreational activity typically unavailable to people with disabilities.  Our programs start in indoor, heated pools with opportunities to join the local kayaking community after class.  Our model has worked for many individuals who start in our "adaptive" classes, then join our inclusive community programs, and ultimately strive toward independence. 
Depending on the individual, Adaptive Kayaking may help develop courage, confidence and character, physical, cognitive, social and emotional strength, improve with motor-planning, problem solving, range of motion, balance, agility and coordination, or overcome fear, reduce anxiety, depression or PTSD.
 Individuals with developmental or physical differences often need repeated exposure to the skills we need to learn in order to have fun, be safe and be successful outdoors.  That's why most of our programs include weekly lessons for a period of 4 or more weeks.  City and private pools are often more available during the "off-season" for this type of sequential program.  Unfortunately, city pools are virtually unavailable during the warmer months due to summer programming, birthday party rentals, etc.  By working with individuals for a period of weeks, we can learn more about them and how we can help them be successful going forward.  Thus by starting in the Fall, we are able to develop the skills necessary for Spring and Summer outings when the days are longer and warmer.
Our first adaptive kayaking program began at Camp Rising Sun in 2010, where kayaking has been the single most popular activity every year since then.  We've worked closely with the UNM Center for Development and Disability to develop inclusive, recreational programs for the Autism community and now work with other partners such as Mandy's Farm, Abrazos Family Support Services, APS, The Occupational Therapy Department at UNM, and the Department of Health - Developmental Disability Support Division.  We also work with other individuals with physical or developmental disabilities as well.  We teach ~250 kids with special needs per year through Albuquerque Public School's Adaptive Aquatics PE programs, as well as summer camps for the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Mexico, the ARCA Summer Vacation, Camp Enchantment (a camp for kids with cancer) and the Beyond Limits Wheelchair Sports Camp.  We regularly attend autism-specific trainings

Each individual (including their family, peers and support) is invited to join our local kayaking community; the Greater Albuquerque / Santa Fe Kayak Meetup, consisting of over 650 paddlers in the Albuquerque / Metro area.  Our events include bi-monthly "pool parties" or practice days; this regualry scheduled event is ideal for those on the Spectrum seeking consistency, socialization and opportunities to practice.  Our community often paddles at Cochiti Lake, including providing support for open-water triathlons.  These triathlons need safety-kayakers to assist swimmers in need.  In most cases, the race director provides free food for volunteers, a free t-shirt commorating the event, live music and tremendous exposure to a broader "community" event.  One of our adaptive paddlers, who assisted a swimmer, was convinced that he "saved someone's life" thereby adding depth and meaning to his life and truly feeling a contribution to soc