Thursday June 23, 2011 | 11:50 AM

The breaking waves at Gooch's Beach in Kennebunk are a good place for surfer spotting.

From shore, wetsuited figures can be seen nodding in the water atop brightly colored boards, their heads turning to check the horizon now and then like casual commuters waiting on a bench for the morning bus.

Eventually one will see his ride coming and begin paddling ahead of it. In an instant he's on his feet riding the water in, the wave tripping over itself as it turns into whitewash. It's a thrilling triumph to watch.

And for some Southern Maine kids with specials needs, it's a thrill they're getting to experience first hand.

During the summer, on the third Tuesday of the month, the Gooch's Beach waves become a saltwater playground for area kids with autism, Asperger's syndrome and Down syndrome. Special Surfer Night, hosted by Aquaholics Surf Shop in Kennebunk, has been introducing special surfers to the wonders of wave catching for the last five years. On those evening, the grinning faces outnumber the waves.

For surfers, it's a chance to "share the stoke," although volunteers don't need to have surfing experience to participate. For more information or to sign up your child or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Aquaholics Surf Shop in advance at 967-8650. Or stop into the shop at 166 Port Road, Kennebunk. Find them online at Special Surfer Night
When: 5:30 p.m. July 19 and August 16
Where: Gooch's Beach, Kennebunk
How much: Free; sign up in advance!

About the Author

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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