What do riptide currents and coaches have in common?

autism coaching Aug 11, 2020

“Just a few more strokes and I’ll be there”, I thought to myself. My arms felt heavy. “Why couldn’t I feel the sand under my feet?” I stopped swimming for a moment and looked up expecting to see the shoreline in front of me. But instead, I saw an expanse of ocean. And then it dawned on me, I was being swept out to sea!

A short time before, I had been playing with friends on a huge rubber ring. Although Durban has a tropical climate, it was the middle of winter and I was feeling cold. So, I decided to swim to shore to warm up. Now, instead of snuggling in my towel and burying my feet in the sand, I was gasping for air in shark infested waters. I kept going, thinking that I could somehow beat the current and make it to safety. But each stroke seemed to pull me further and further away from the beach. It was a hopeless situation.

Exhausted and trying hard not to think of the sharks, I rolled onto my back to catch my breath. I lay there floating, looking up at the grey sky above me and letting my weary limbs trail in the water. I was too far from anyone to call for help. I’m not sure how long I stayed like that but at some point, a wave of determination suddenly surged through me. I wasn’t ready to leave this world just yet! I would keep trying even if I died doing so. I rolled onto my front and doggedly began swimming again.

This time though, something was very different. I had help! With each pull of my arms, I could feel the current propelling me forwards. It was as though a giant pair of hands were moving me through the water. I sensed renewed strength. I kept going and then I looked up – the shoreline was in sight. A few more strokes and I felt the drag of waves and ground below my feet. I was safe! I was alive!   

Over the past few months, I’ve been working with some wonderful coaches from Kingdom Builders Academy. As a professional clinician working in my field for nearly 3 decades, I’ve built a tremendous wealth of knowledge about communication difficulties - and in particular what this looks like in autism spectrum conditions. But what I didn’t have, was any business savvy and skill. At all! And, if there’s one thing you need when it comes to running your own business – it’s business savvy and skill.

My normal approach to challenges is to figure them out and find a solution. On my own. I often turn to books - something that started when I was a floundering young parent with no clue on how to raise my child. There’s no question that the insights I’ve gained from reading are invaluable. But I’ve discovered something even better. Coaching!

Just like that riptide current I found myself in, coaches have the ability to throw you out to sea. Right out of your comfort zone! They challenge you to think in new and different ways when you would really prefer to stay safely on solid ground. Coaches give you “aha” moments – like the sudden realisation that you’re actually being swept out to sea. They enable you to see your own blind spots. Coaches also recognise when you need to rest. They come alongside to encourage you and then, they inspire you to try again. And perhaps most importantly of all, coaches are like the current that brings you back to shore. They give answers and strategies that propel you forwards in a way that is simply not possible on your own.

So, my sincere thanks to all the coaches who have helped me this year! I’m looking forward to more of your insight and wisdom in the months to come. And if you have a young child with a social communication difficulty or autism, do consider a coach. You will gain clarity and move forwards much faster if you do. Because as Ryunosuke Satoro said, “Individually we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean”. And there’s a lot of power in the ocean - I know!

To you and your parenting journey!


Linda Philips

Parenting Autism



Parenting Autism supports parents of young autistic children with coaching and training to improve communication, interaction and emotional regulation skills. Interested in knowing how we can help? Contact [email protected]


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