Water and the Autistic Child
At some point, every parent will find that their child is magnetically drawn to the water. Well, why wouldn’t they be? Water is moving, soothing, and always fun.
Even as adults, we are captivated by the undeniable power and comforting effect of water. Had a rough day, and we are bound to draw a long bath to sink up to our nose in. Need an overdue vacation that promises happiness and tranquility? We inevitably go in search of the perfect waterfront location, where we can stretch out in the sand, close our eyes, and just feel the cool water moving in and out…crashing over our bare feet.
Now think about a child. A child feels everything to the fullest. They are pure and bubbling excitement. They are still learning and experimenting with the feel of things; therefore they savor the journey of every experience. Children crave activity and attention, and they absolutely love hugs and comfort. Just imagine how it feels when they step into the water and feel it wrap around them in this rocking hug.
Now consider an autistic child; a child that feels lost and confused in a world with which they cannot communicate. Imagine the feeling of rushing through life, with a million thoughts in mind at once. You do not understand many of the things going on around you; just as other people will never understand much of what you hold silently inside your head. Everything is whirring and buzzing around you, you are expected to talk and interact and become part of society, but you simply do not know how to satisfy society’s demand. This is the world of an autistic child… a scary and frantic world. In this world, the attraction to water must be immensely magnified.
Immerse an autistic child in water, and it is sure to be a mind blowing experience for them. Quiet, soothing, and undemanding; they can splash, play, and easily move around without the clumsiness they endure on land. Autistic children thrive on sensory pleasures, and are often founding utilizing self-stimulatory behaviors like hand flapping or twirling. Water is something with which they can silently interact and then watch and feel it push back to respond. With all the wind whispering, splashing sounds, and cool sensations, it is sure to be the ultimate cradling lullaby.