What seems like an eternity ago…Day #37 – I wrote about the value of swimming. Why is the water so attractive to Tucker? To repeat…
- The water is calming, soothing, and predictable (or at least the tide/current).We know children on the spectrum love calm, we know they love to be soothed, we know they love predictability.
- It is quiet under the water. Simply monotone…simply soothing.
- The water also feels like a great big hug. The pressure from the water surrounds their body and it calms – the water provides the sensory input that the child is craving.
- A child on the spectrum is able to experience the world like a NT. Their vestibular and proprioceptive systems are able to function in a more typical way.
It’s been a wild day in our house. We’re having new kitchen cupboards installed – it’s noisy, there are people in and out, the house is a mess – it’s chaotic. I said to my husband, ‘This is why I could never build a house. This mess is making me NUTS!’ Then I thought about Tucker.
He’s been in hiding downstairs in his room. He appeared upstairs a couple of times, looked around and headed back down. Then the noise began. I went downstairs and knew it had to be bothering him – saws, pounding, drilling.
Then a plumber showed up to look at our water pump downstairs.
Straw. Camel. Broken back.
He appeared upstairs and said, “I need to go to the pool.”
Good thing the pool was set up this weekend. It’s probably only 65 degrees – but that doesn’t bother him (thank goodness for that interoceptive sense trouble…lol).
He roped his sister into the semi-frozen waters (okay…that’s a bit dramatic).
I knew he was overwhelmed because I went out to check on him and Estelle said, “Mom – I got in the pool to play with him and he won’t stay above the water!!!” I asked her to just give him time.
Sure enough…the next 30 minutes I checked on him he was most often like this – or completely underwater. I get it though – trying to clear his brain.
After about an hour of the underwater refocusing I found this…
The pool. For so many children – such a happy place. For spectrum children? I cannot describe the importance. We belong to a healthcare facility for winter ‘water therapy.’ Most children I know who are on the spectrum are in some type of water therapy – whether structured or unstructured.
I know water works – and so do the professionals.
One of my favorite ‘side benefits’ that I didn’t refer to in my original posts is the increased positive socialization that Tucker experiences when in the water. It sort of levels the playing field. Chu and Pan (in Mortimer, R., Privopoulos, M., & Kumar, S. (2014). The effectiveness of hydrotherapy in the treatment of social and behavioral aspects of children with autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 7, 93+.) reviewed research and suggested that aquatic therapy programs help to improve social interactions with peers and siblings.
I would tend to agree. The last time I checked them I found this…
They tied their floaties together. Yes, Estelle has regular clothes on – she thought she would stay a bit warmer with a t-shirt and capri pants. It didn’t matter to me because she was doing Tucker a favor (at least at the time). As I walked away with a smile Estelle shouted, ‘Together forever!’ I stopped and turned around and asked who. She responded, “Tuckie and Me!” Then he giggled…
I don’t need a research study to tell me how good the water is for him, for them. I think he’s pool bound until the chaos in the house is gone. No worries – I have enough sunscreen to last all day. Just keep swimming, Tucker – just keep swimming.
Want to know what you can do this summer? If you know a child with autism – ask their parents if you can buy a season-long pool pass for their entire family. Please don’t let economics stand in the way of such an ‘easy’ therapy.
I know they would be forever grateful.