Disability no barrier to getting out in the surf

Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
Aidan Haque takes off at Back Beach.
Camera IconAidan Haque takes off at Back Beach. Credit: Reuben Carder

Surfing puts a smile on Aidan Haque’s face and helps him focus.

A regular at Back Beach on a Saturday, he can be seen shredding waves with the help of volunteers and local surf coach Shaun Glass.

Aidan, pictured, is one of an increasing number of people who take on challenging sports like surfing, despite living with challenges far outside most people’s experience.

Aidan has an autism spectrum condition and an intellectual disability.

He uses verbal communication to outline his wants and needs, but keeps the small talk to a minimum.

“He doesn’t generally have big conversations,” mum Mel Haque said.

“He’s a dude.

“He won’t talk about the weather or gossip about someone.

“He’s so confident with it (surfing) and I think he enjoys it.

“I just have so much trust in the people who work with him.

“I’m pretty confident with it all.

“Lots of smiles, and he wants to keep on going back out and back out.”

He surfs differently, but enjoys it as much as anyone out in the water.

“He’s got a great sense of humour,” Ms Haque said

“He’s fantastic at memorising music. He’s like a walking DJ machine.”

Aidan Haque.
Camera IconAidan Haque. Credit: Supplied

Aidan’s schedule is a busy one.

He attends TAFE, volunteers at the Vinnies second-hand shop, and is looking for more volunteer work.

“He’s very into exercise,” Ms Haque said.

“He goes to the gym and does lots of swimming.”

“He absolutely loves surfing.

“ For him to be in the water for an hour and a half for one activity, that’s a huge thing.”

Aidan is supported by the Midwest Community Living Association, but the people he surfs with are volunteers, including special needs education assistants from Geraldton Senior High School.

“A lot of those people come down and help out,” Ms Haque said.

“It’s pretty cool that they’re willing to get in there and do that.”

She said the family moved to Geraldton from Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the 2000s and had not looked back. “I love it,” she said.

“It’s a great sense of community, and one of the reasons we’ve never moved is the great community spirit around Aidan.

“He knows people around and he’s had great schooling. A lot of the young people around town say ‘hi’. They appreciate him for who he is instead of expecting him to fit in. Appreciation of differences in Geraldton is what I find.”

Midwest Community Living Association operations manager Summer Pirrottina said being able to adapt mainstream activities other people in the community could access created positive physical and mental health outcomes for people with disabilities.

“We’d like to look at all opportunities available and partner with anyone who’d like to offer modified activities to people with disabilities,” she said.

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