Swimming is probably the most favorite summer activity of my son. He loves to splash in the water, submerge into it, and roll onto his back to try and float on top. When he was younger, he would freeze in fear of the ocean waves and fight me every time I took him deeper into the water, whereas now that he is seven, the situation has changed. Now he fearlessly gets into the ocean water without realizing the hidden dangers of the shiny surface.
Why are we so attracted to the water? Possibly the answer is that the first nine months of our lives we spent in the womb, submerged in the warm water that protects us from the toxic and physical harms of the outside world. It is natural that the sensual feeling of water reconnects us with nature, relaxes our mind, and strengthens our muscles. I think that children with Autism connect with nature on higher levels; that is why water appears so much more stimulating and arousing to them than to typically developing children. My daughter recognizes the danger of high waves and steps back or alerts me of her fear, and my son runs towards the waves – ignoring all red signs of potential risk. He disregards the risk-averse thought process and lives every minute in the present.
When I look at my son shouting with joy in the water, I cannot help but think about the dangers that water can bring. No doubt, I want him to be comfortable and have fun in the water, and even though he knows how to move in it and keep his head above it, he is always trying to go deeper into it. He dismisses the fact that he will get tired at some point, and his body will give in.
According to Stat News, drowning is the most common fatal injury among children with Autism. The statistics are scary, and the thought of your child missing in the environment with nearby water is unbearable. Not being prepared and failing to embrace the risk is the worst you can do as a parent. Besides equipping your child with a life vest or teaching him or her how to remain above the water, you can put wearable GPS devices and ID wrist bands on your child to monitor your child’s location at any time. AutismSpeaks provides a good overview of products that you can buy for your child.
I started using Jiobit this past school year when I encountered poor bus service. I would attach the tracker to my child’s backpack to ensure that he is on the school bus for no more than an hour. If my child went off route, I would alert the school and bus company by populating Jiobit’s timeline and demand new accommodation. It also helped me to track where my child is at all times. You can get proximity and wandering alerts by inserting the GPS tracker into a pocket or attaching it to a belt. One downside that I have encountered is that the battery drains pretty quickly. I have shared Jiobit access with my sitter, who helps me to pick up children at the school bus stop. If she and I track kids’ movements, especially live tracking, it can significantly drain the battery. By knowing that, we try to use the application wisely and charge the trackers every night on their charging stations.
Knowing where your child is at all times is probably the most desired ability a parent
Knowing where your child is at all times is probably the most desired ability a parent may want, especially when it comes to children with special needs. It is crucial to know where hidden dangers lie and to be prepared to respond accordingly. I hope you have a safe and fun Summer!
Thank you for reading.