Adventure-loving Toby has proven that being non-verbal and having autism are no obstacles to becoming an experienced sailor!

My son Toby loves an adventure!  He is autistic and non-verbal, but doesn’t let this hold him back.

Toby was a member of West Sussex Sailability Club for five years, where he learned to sail on a river.  When we moved to the Isle of Wight, we immediately joined Cowes Sailability Club so that he could continue to enjoy spending time on the water and learn how to sail at sea.

Sailing is hugely beneficial for Toby.  It’s a totally different experience from being at home.  Sailing gives him a little bit of responsibility and he has a lot of fun out in the sea air, so it is good for his mental health.

Although Toby doesn’t speak, his comprehension is good.  Sailing helps him to learn to concentrate so that he can follow instructions.  He likes to watch what’s going on around him and get involved when he is asked to.

Since joining Cowes Sailability Club, Toby has been learning how to handle a different type of sailing boat and work with other people as part of a crew.  He has also been helping to push the trailers in and out and get the patrol boat ready to launch.

Despite his communication difficulties, volunteers at Cowes Sailability are good at interacting with Toby.  They make him feel a valued member of the club.

Gary - Toby's Dad