Dangerous Dan the pirate hauls up the "buried" treasure, which was marked with a floating X
Tom watches as Sara holds up the key to the treasure.
If anyone reading this blog happens to be in Hyannis, MA during the summer, make a point of checking out the Pirate Adventure ship on Ocean Dock. This probably isn't for every kid on the autism spectrum - but for us, it was an absolutely terrific experience.
The boat is a real boat, outfitted like a pirate vessel. The pirates are three charming Irishmen (according to them, Irishmen make the best pirates!). The experience was timed down to the minute - and not only were the kids, ages 2-12, engaged for the entire hour and a half, but they also learned something about maps, points of the compass, landmarks... and water cannons.
The boat took off exactly on time, but since we had been asked to turn up half an hour early there was time to choose a pirate vest and get a painted-on "tatoo." On board, the "pirates" immediately provided the kids with clear rules and directions that kept them focused and on task ("all hands on deck" means gather in the bow and put your hands on the floor; "look out positions" means stand on low benches along the rail and look out to sea; and so forth).
There was a storyline that involved real, honest-to-goodness experiences - a "bad" pirate on a sailboat who was squirted with cannons but later was taken aboard as his ship had begun to "sink." A real "treasure" that was found with the aid of a legitimate map of the area. Real flags to be raised and lowered.
Tom, at 12, was the oldest child on the boat - and by far the tallest. But that really didn't matter. He was a little anxious with so many kids around (maybe 20 kids), and not quite sure what to make of the squirting water. But overall he was engaged, took part in almost every aspect of the adventure, and talked about it with real understanding afterwards. Sure, he got overexcited here and there - but wow, what a great time.
I think it was the combination of clear structure, kind actors, and the intrinsic interest of the experience that made it work for Tom. Put it on your list if you're on the Cape anytime soon!
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