In my book, as far as is concerned places to raise a child with SPD, Ballito is the bee’s knees. Apart from one or two small areas for improvement, I cannot wish for a better environment for Hein-Chris to grow and flourish.
From an SPD perspective - so to speak - the town’s single most impressive feature is year-round access to the beach, what with our splendid weather, and warm swells up and down the Indian Ocean. Having seen the affect that regular trips to the beach had (and still has) on Hein-Chris, I venture that these visits hold as many (if not more) benefits than any therapy room could ever endeavour to offer.
While the beach and its infinite textures, sights, sounds and tastes (and smells) are a sensory minefield that drove my sprout’s tolerance to epsilon (in mathematical terms), conquering this gigantic beast in all its forms set Hein-Chris on a course to sensory integration second to none.
What is sensory integration? As a parent of a child with SPD, I am always striving towards achieving sensory integration i.e. seeking activities that challenge Hein-Chris’ senses, and then doing these activities often enough that the sensory input is no longer registered as a threat. (I re-wrote this definition several times and never nailed it, so urge you to consider a quick Google search on the matter.)
After many years of brutal resistance to all the beach has to offer (roughly four years from birth), Hein-Chris finally surrendered to its splendour and now is as happy with the sand and sea as - well - a fish in water. You might imagine that this did not come easy. And were it not for the dogged persistence of my darling husband, this beast would most certainly have remained untamed. Trips to the beach rate very low on my personal enjoy-o-metre so - despite recognizing the beach’s potential early on - visits ground me down to within an inch of sanity. Christoph stepped to the plate something reminiscent of DiMaggio and, thanks to him (Christoph, not DiMaggio), our son had every exposure to the ocean I could have possibly wished for. And still does.
And it helped. It really did.
Mother Nature took hold, and got the job done.
Today Hein-Chris seeks out regular trips to the beach of his own accord. He swims with gusto, explores with glee. From a baby who recoiled violently from as much as setting a foot on the sand to a loud, confident beach cowboy.
If you have a child with SPD, and any manner of accessing the beach regularly, please do so. Striving for sensory integration is a buckload easier if you have Ballito’s Beast on your side (and I do not mean our very own Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira whom Hein-Chris and I spot quite often around these here parts).