Down Syndrome + Special Needs Advocate Walt Lindveld Discovered His Life's Purpose When His Son Clash Was Born.
Walt Lindveld says his greatest gift in life is Clash, his super cool 8-year-old son who just happens to have down syndrome. Which is why Walt, who is best known for his innovative and disruptive design concepts for brands such as The Montauk Beach House, I.AM.YOU. Studio and Elizabeth & James, is most proud of his work for A Walk On Water, a non-profit organization that provides surf therapy for children (and adults) with special needs. "They inspire me every day to give my time and effort to help provide therapy to so many more children like my own," Walt says. "I can’t describe how grateful I am, and how awestruck I am at the benefits of what surf therapy can do for these little athletes."
Meet our newest friend and the awesome and inspiring adventures he has with Clash.
4 words that describe your "job":
Dad, Surfer, Creative, Lover of Love.
How does Clash inspire you?
My son inspires me to be patient, to be unabashed in my approach to people and situations, and to be grateful that I have the privilege of being dad to such an amazing soul who is enlightened way beyond the majority of humans. He inspires me daily!!!
What is an activity your whole family loves to do together?
Surfing! Clash and I love to surf together. It is something we do as therapy; the ocean is our sacred space. it has taught him so much about himself - facing his fears, challenges, and realizing that he can be amazing at whatever he sets his mind on. There is no "dis-ability", only "this-ability.”
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your special needs child?
That he is awesome beyond words, and that it is the greatest gift life has given me.
How do you survive a tough day of parenting?
Breathing. Real. Deep… Or just throw in the towel… hahaha! No but seriously - like any other parent - we all lose our s••t sometimes, we are all human :) but what really makes me survive is just taking a step back, breathe, and have a good honest look at him, looking at his soul. Doing that I quickly realize that he is a magical kid, and I feel so much gratitude towards the Universe for allowing me to be a guide to this little being, that all the tough moments just vanish. That is usually followed by a long heart-felt hug full of love from him. That just washes away anything possibly left.
What is the one thing in your play space your child can't live without?
Anything resembling a little stick. (Drumsticks, straws, random pieces of wood, you name it.) He loves to have them in his hand and flap them up and down. It’s his form of stim(ming) when he needs to calm himself from over stimulation.
Clash's favorite toy?
Honestly...a stick. He’s very low maintenance :)
Clash's favorite app?
Spotify!!! He is absolutely music obsessed. He can listen to music for hours on end. His knowledge and taste in music is superb. I’m talking like a very well rounded taste! Not children’s songs, or teeny-bopper pop songs. He gets down for real: Soul, Classic Country, Rock & Roll, Hip-Hop, Reggae - and across all eras. This kid can call out track names and artist names that would leave you dumbfounded.
Clothing item Clash tries to put on every day and you have to sneak into the laundry?
None! I still get to chose what he wears, he doesn’t really have interest in choosing yet. But I have good taste. Haha.
3 Moms or Dads you follow on social media that inspire you and why?
@eicherumba and @corbettburick on IG - they are absolutely amazing parents who chose to adopt kids with special needs - which gives it even more of a special perspective and meaning to the idea of being selfless and at service to others. Their hearts are just too big for words. Plus I love that they are super real about parenting, which is so nice and transparent. You can totally relate to them when you follow their feed.
The other feed I have to mention is @awalkonwater - although it’s not a “parent” it is a non-profit organization I work with that provides Surf Therapy for children with special needs. The amount of selfless love, dedication, and time that these group of people provides to our kids is just unreal.
What is the last thing you purchased for yourself that made you really happy?
A trip to Barbados now in spring break!!! Taking my boy surfing and relaxing in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean!!!!
What advice would you give to a (new) special needs parent?
Enjoy every single moment of their precious life. If ever in doubt, just think about it and realize that you should be honored to have been bestowed with such an amazing journey to be the guide in life to a kid that is on a special mission of Love on this earth. I truly believe our kids are here to help heal the world by teaching people about compassion, acceptance, joy, and pure Love. Our kids have this amazing ability to break down people’s pre-conceived ideas and judgments. Just that action alone can awaken a person and help them in their journey of enlightenment; whether just beginning it or well on their path. That is a precious mission in humanity, so be proud and grateful that you get to be the keeper, protector, and mentor of such highly evolved little souls!!!
What quote do you live by?
God is Love. Love is Everywhere.
Continue following Walt + Clash's story on Instagram