Disabled kids can build self esteem with dolphins Florida: Several programs use the gentle water mammals to provide a therapeutic experience.

Travel Q&A


I will be traveling to Florida with my 20-year-old autistic son and have heard that there are locations in Florida that offer "swimming with the dolphins." Can you provide information?

Several programs in Florida bring disabled children and dolphins together. Among the goals are improving motivation, outlook and self-esteem by providing an experience that is fun and rewarding.

For a child to be properly placed, those running the programs emphasize, specific needs and abilities must be assessed.

Among the choices available is Dolphin Human Therapy, 13615 S. Dixie Highway, Miami, Fla. 33176; 305-361-3313. David E. Nathanson, the psychologist who established the program, said participants were given 15 hours a week, divided between working with dolphins and getting reinforcement training.

Typically, he said, a participant works with a therapist, a dolphin trainer and an intern who charts behavior. The program, which runs to Dec. 19, is booked for 1997, he said. Cost: $5,800 for two weeks, including a videotape. Sessions take place at the Miami Seaquarium.

A Monday-to-Friday program geared to children with special needs and seeking to create an emotional and spiritual family experience is run by Island Dolphin Care, Post Office Box 2728, Key Largo, Fla. 33037; 305-451-5884, fax 305-451-3710.

Under the guidance of Deena Hoagland, principal therapist, and William Shannon, a psychologist, the program runs from May to November. Every day, it offers about an hour in the water with a dolphin and about an hour of such activities as counting blocks into pails and painting wooden dolphins. The cost, $1,800 a week, includes a videotape.

Shorter-term programs are also available. Dolphins Plus, which is the home of Island Dolphin Care, stresses research and education.

Which of its programs would be best depends on the child, according to Lloyd A. Borguss, president. The nonstructured program, for example, is designed for snorkelers.

Cost of half-day option: $135 for each participant, $7.50 for nonswimming observers. Telephone: 305-451-1993.

Briefer programs are among the options at the Dolphin Research Center, Post Office Box 522875, Marathon Shores, Fla. 33052-2875; 305-289-1121.

Dana Carnegie of the center said that, depending on the evaluation, it might be able to arrange a one-on-one recreational session with a staff member in its Dolphin Encounter program for a total of $45, with about 20 minutes in the water.

I heard about a Lucille Ball convention held in California. Will another one be held?

It was on Oct. 15, 1951, a Monday night, that "I Love Lucy" first appeared on television. More than 45 years later, interest persists in this sitcom, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and its successors, which include "The Lucy Show," "Here's Lucy" and "Life With Lucy."

Reruns are still being shown, and more than 1,200 couch potatoes stirred themselves to go to last year's Lucy convention, according to Thomas J. Watson, president of Lucy-fan Enterprises and a former Lucy publicity agent.

This year, fans will meet in California June 11-13 for their second annual convention, to be held at the Burbank Airport Hilton and Convention Center.

On the program, Watson said, are screenings of a film and of television programs starring Ball, who died in 1989; a 90-minute montage of clips; panel discussions by people who worked with her or Arnaz. Dealers in Ball memorabilia will also be selling their wares.

Each event will be priced separately, Watson said, noting that by April 1 a blanket price for the weekend would be set. The rate for accommodations at the Hilton, he said, will be $79.95 to $99.95, double occupancy, depending on the size of the room.

Information: We Love Lucy, Post Office Box 56234, Sherman Oaks, Calif. 91413-1234; fax 818-981-0757; E-mail lucyfan @ix.netcom.com.

Pub Date: 3/30/97

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