Autism Under Water

2 06 2013

I’ve done a lot of online digging about autism and scuba. There seems to be some pretty violent opposition to teaching kids with autism how to dive… well… I disagree.

By saying categorically that people on the spectrum can’t/shouldn’t scuba dive they are being put into a box that they don’t deserve. Every person on the spectrum is an individual and should be treated as such.

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My son is learning to dive. There. I said it. He has classic autism and he is learning to dive. He likes the silence underwater. He likes the feel of water on his skin. He likes the weightlessness, the freedom and the absence of crowds. He can’t talk underwater anyway so it’s not expected of him. Really… it’s paradise for an autistic kid! So why not?

So, J and my husband are doing this really slowly. He has taken “Discover Scuba” 3 times in a pool and now and is about to start the classes. Because he learns “differently” the classes are going to go pretty slowly– with front loading in advance– once a week for about 6 weeks and then another 5 pool sessions before open water certification. And– because of his age he will become Junior certified which means that he won’t be able to dive without a certified adult.

There is plenty that could go wrong… but, there is plenty that could go wrong with any person who dives. I don’t believe that the risks are any greater for J so long as this is done at his pace– and in a way that suits his learning style.

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J wants to be an “underwater movie maker explorer who tells people to stop bullying the ocean”… but, he doesn’t want to travel– or move anywhere outside of landlocked Ohio. He’s 13 so things could change– probably will change– but for now, we’re encouraging him to pursue his interests. And, he’s interested in scuba diving.