The Autism Society of Santa Barbara has announced its continuing partnership with the Santa Barbara Seals for a Surf and Beach Day to teach children with autism to surf.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Campus Point at UCSB in Santa Barbara, the Autism Society and Santa Barbara Seals will host the special event for children with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs. Each child will have the opportunity to learn how to surf from qualified, professional surf instructors, with a 3-to-1 instructor-to-student ratio in the water.

Kayaking, beach games, arts and crafts, face painting and boogie boards will also be available to the children.

“This is such an honor and privilege to be involved in something so essential and unique to the Santa Barbara community,” said JP Garcia, founding member of the Santa Barbara Seals.

“Over the last six years, we have been privileged to partner with the Santa Barbara Seals to host a safe, fun, recreational program for the autism community,” said Marcia Eichelberger, president of the Autism Society. “Because of the patience, talent and enthusiasm of the Seals staff and volunteers, along with their desire to make surfing accessible to everyone, our children and young adults with autism will be able to enjoy a classic Santa Barbara activity, and their families will come out and do what other families do all year long — enjoy the natural beauty of the ocean. We are proud that this will once again be an extraordinary event for our children and their families and a gift to Santa Barbara.”

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider is expected to attend the event to show her support for the event.

Autism is the most common of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders, affecting an estimated 1 in 110 children born, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that as many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism.

That number is on the rise. Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and other governmental agencies, autism is growing at a rate of 10 percent to 17 percent per year. At these rates, the Autism Society estimates that the prevalence of autism could reach 4 million Americans in the next decade.

The overall incidence of autism is consistent around the globe, but is four times more prevalent in boys than girls. Autism knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries, and family income, lifestyle and educational levels do not affect the possibility of an autism occurrence.

Education, awareness, advocacy and support form the cornerstones of the Autism Society of Santa Barbara’s mission. It offers an informational foundation for family support, current medical practices and clinical recommendations. It seeks to provide equal opportunity and access for individuals and families within the autism spectrum and related disorders.

— Catherine Abarca is an event coordinator for the Autism Society of Santa Barbara.