Surfing and the Autistic

Fascinating piece by Jonah Lerner in the current Outside on autistic surfer Clay Marzo.

What makes Clay unique is that his obsession is a sport, not an abstract intellectual category. While many children with Asperger’s are marked by their lack of coordination—"motor clumsiness" is a very common trait—Clay moves in the water with an uncommon grace. (His movements are much more awkward on dry land; I watched him hit his head on a car door and knock over two water glasses in the span of 15 minutes.) "Clay’s kind of a surfing freak," nine-time Association of Surfing Professionals world champion Kelly Slater has said. "He’s like a cat. He’s got this ability to always land on his feet. Clay definitely knows things that I don’t know." Clay’s nickname is "the Rubber-Band Man," since he’ll consistently stick maneuvers, such as his signature aerial reversal, that aren’t supposed to be possible. He’ll be bent over backwards, his blond hair in the water, and he’ll find a way to stand up.

More here.

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