Understanding Your Child With Autism’s Behavior In the Pool
Is your child’s favorite activity staying underwater as often as possible?
This could be because he/she loves the deep pressure encompassing his/her body during underwater play. Understanding that the hydrostatic pressure provides a blanket of soothing squishes can help you to recognize the underlying reason for underwater play. Try to turn it into a fun game of diving for rings in different depths of water because the deeper you go the more pressure there is. Offer ritual and routine of coming up for a breath, moving on to different games and bring plenty of fun diving toys.
Does your child’s need to jump into the pool over and over have you ready to pull your bathing cap over your eyes?
This could be because your little fish loves to break the surface tension of the water. Yes this elastic band of water can feel incredible on the body of your seeking swimmer. Jumping, belly flopping and trying to plop in the water with as much of your body hitting the surface as possible offers great input into your swimmers skin. Offer a bit of structure including space management of less crowded areas to jump. Be sure to re direct jumping away from steps, ledges and shallow areas.
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Does your child hang on to you for dear life every time you try to get them in the pool?
This could be due to the buoyancy of the water. Think about what it feels like to be in this gravity-eliminated body of water where you are constantly being moved from the turbulence of other swimmers. If you have tried everything and you just cannot get your child to seem comfortable sitting or standing independently in the water Swim Angelfish has an idea for you. Try entering the water with a long sleeve cotton shirt and a pair of canvas tennis shoes that sink. This can offer some weight that will contract the upward thrust of the water otherwise known and buoyancy. Move your swimmer sit to stand waist deep, neck deep and then try some walking. Hopefully this will weight your swimmer down enough to wash away the discomfort of floating.
Ailene Tisser, MA PT, is a NDT and play project certified pediatric physical therapist with 20+ years of experience treating a variety of diagnoses, both in and out of the water. Check out their website for blogs and free webinars.
This article was featured in Issue 81 – Building Self-Esteem in Kids with Autism