The Monster loves the water.
I’ve heard this as a common refrain with a good number of parents of children with ASDs, that their kids love the water – I’m sure it’s something to do with the sensations that come from being surrounded by liquid. As it is, it’s one of his favorite things in the summer, being told that he can go play with water in some form, be it the inflatable pool in our backyard, the water table we have here, water tables at various museums or the large pool at the JCC.
When I was a child, I was quite afraid of the water – it took me forever to get past Beginner II in the old American Red Cross system. (I didn’t like putting my face in the water.) As I got older and got over my fears, I eventually became a certified lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor, and being afraid of the water helped a great deal with getting other kids to learn to swim.
Of course, nothing I learned in my WSI program was geared towards teaching a child with an ASD.
The Monster’s quite content now to go into water that’s clearly too deep for him – whereas last summer, he was insistant on being held, almost regardless of the depth. When he’s with me, he’s kicking on command (most of the time) and blowing bubbles. I’m starting to figure out how to get him to do paddling and the like to start working on basic water skills. The downside of his verbal issues, though, is my inability to explain to him some of the important things. He doesn’t hold his breath, making going underwater difficult, unless I’m willing to put up with the retching sounds he makes when he comes back up after getting a throat-full of pool water. He doesn’t really want to put his whole face in unless it’s on his terms. And he’s unwilling to go onto his back to try to float (which, let’s be honest, is a harder trust-based skill when your parent is holding you).
The wife’s looking into private lessons for him. I’m thinking perhaps I need to find out if there’s a manual from the ARC on teaching special-needs children to augment my (well-lapsed) WSI training…