NASBLA Roundtable

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  • 1.  Boating safety Classes for autistic students

    Posted 12-14-2020 07:47 AM
    Our Boating Safety Foundation is trying to find information about any existing boating safety classes for special needs. I have a 34 year old neighbor who is autistic and loves to be on the water. He asked me if we could do a class. I think it’s important that everyone have access to boating safety education. Am looking for any existing programs or materials to create one.
    Thank you in advance for any input you may have.

    Jan Willhite-Iserman
    Ashleigh Iserman Boating Safety Foundation

    Sent from my iPad

  • 2.  RE: Boating safety Classes for autistic students

    Posted 12-15-2020 10:19 AM
    Jan -

    Have you considered an online course? The BoatU.S. Foundation course is free and was easily accessed by my son who is on the spectrum.

    David Kennedy
    BoatU.S. Government Affairs

  • 3.  RE: Boating safety Classes for autistic students

    Posted 12-16-2020 10:07 AM
    we will be holding a Zoom ABC class soon.

    Shawn Goit
    Americas Boating Club

  • 4.  RE: Boating safety Classes for autistic students

    Posted 12-16-2020 03:29 PM
    Thank you David for your quick reply.  I think there might be many autistic students who could do an "on line" course but our goal is to have the class where they can see and touch the experience.   We are willing to create a special needs approach to an already existing program, we just trying to get any additional information we could.

    Thanks again David,
    Jan Willhite-Iserman
    Ashleigh Iserman Boating Safety Fnd

    Sent from my iPad

  • 5.  RE: Boating safety Classes for autistic students

    Posted 12-15-2020 10:35 AM
    Hello Jan,
    I do not know of any programs teaching boating courses to autistic individuals specifically.
    I was involved with the CT Special Olympic Sailing program for 15 years or so and have taught sailing classes to entire classes of deaf people. When you say you are "looking for existing materials, programs, or materials to create one," the materials and boating courses already exist. Having said that, if you were going to purchase or "create" a boating course for autistic individuals I believe it would be more of a delivery concern than an content matter. That is how would you present the existing information you want to convey to people that have challenges in such a way they will comprehend it.
    Another thing to consider is the "level" of education you want to provide. Is a obtaining a state boating certificate or teaching the basic boating information (that everyone should know) your goal for these folks?
    I'm more than happy to help you in anyway I can or locate a organization/person that would be able to assist help you with this.
    Feel free to reach out to me directly at anytime. I can be reached at or 859-225-7372.
    Take care,
    PS: Boating is a great experience that everyone should enjoy and those joys may not be the obvious ones. In all the years I spent teaching sailing people with disabilities, I'm not sure who gain more - them or me.

    Mark Chanski
    NASBLA Deputy Education Director

  • 6.  RE: Boating safety Classes for autistic students

    Posted 12-16-2020 03:55 PM
    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for the follow up.  I was looking for anyone that might have modified a boating safety class to accommodate the needs of autistic children of all ages.  I have seen the boating safety classes for those who are physically challenged.  

    Our goal is to get the information to the students so that they too can enjoy boating and have a good sense on how to be safe.  I would not expect that this group of students would be able to take the test or operate a boat (but that is not to say there can't be).  My daughter works with autistic children and could help us as well.
    Our Foundation has provided swim classes to a group of autistic children.

    As we move forward, I will keep your contact information Mark.  Thank you again.

    Be Buoyant
    Jan Willhite-Iserman
    Ashleigh Iserman BSF

    Sent from my iPad

  • 7.  RE: Boating safety Classes for autistic students

    Posted 12-15-2020 11:31 AM

    Good morning Jan.

    What a great question! Much depends on where the student(s) are on the spectrum. I'd suggest starting with a special needs teacher that is also an experienced boater. Perhaps even already teaching. Also query your (most) local university if that makes sense to see if they have a sailing program.

    I sure there must be online groups dedicated to the autistic population and that may also provide some insight. U.S. Sailing does a lot of work with a number of different types of challenged sailors, even those that are blind.

    I'm out on the water right now for the next week, but feel free to email me at next week and I'll be happy to help you find an acceptable resource.

    Fair winds,

    Ed Huntsman