SAN DIEGO — You may not think of extreme sports as a form a therapy, but for one thrill-seeker with autism, flying around on a Jetboard makes him feel alive.
Ben Dewart can be seen soaring above Mission Bay on the Jetboard weekly. “From failing, I learned I had to make some improvements and I learned as I went through the months,” Dewart told FOX 5.
For four years, he’s strapped on the hose at Mission Bay Sports Center to fly above the bay. His dad, Tom, is with him for every adventure.
“You get choked up, I won’t lie, it’s exciting,” Tom Richardson said. “With his autism and a lot of times with autistic kids, they need something exciting to settle them down. You’d think it’s the opposite.”
“He’s such an inspiration to everybody … even just anybody without any sort of disability,” Jetboard instructor Nate Sinisgalli told FOX 5. “If you even want to call it that. I’d almost call it an advantage at this point.”
Dewart is a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie who not only loves flying the Jetboard, but also loves everything from bungee jumping to roller coasters and can remember the exact date of every single ride.
“He will be so antsy until he goes on something extreme. He comes down and he is the calmest thing in the world. It settles him down, it grounds him.”
“Well flying makes me calmer and it also relaxes my nerves,” Dewart explained. Asked about his favorite tricks, he said he loves doing donut turns and roller coaster dives on the jetpack. He learned them within a few months.
Research shows that physical education has positive effects on those with autism. And Ben himself has a positive effect on those around him.
Ben’s dad can’t help but look on with glee: “He gets up there, he just has a great time. When I see him smile, it makes me smile.”
Next time you’re in Mission Bay, make sure to look up: It’s not a bird or a plane, it’s Ben Dewart, just getting in his thrills.