Summer is here and the best place to cool off is the pool. However, for a child with Autism, regular pool time does more that just cooling off. “How?” you ask . Let me explain:
Why more Pool time?
Most of you are aware about the physical advantages of playing around in the pool. It improves the strength of your child’s muscles, and helps in developing coordination between the arms and legs. But did you know that the pressure created by the water could calm/ soothe your child? Similarly time spent in the pool can also arouse your child who is less active. Another important reason for more pool time is the sensory needs it can address.
Sensory Fun at Pool time:
Spending time in the pool is a wonderful way to expose your child to proprioceptive and vestibular input. These sensations are credited to the hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy of the water. Hence jumping around, splashing and floating provides the child with such inputs of sensation. Also an even pressure is exerted throughout the child’s body creating a safe and supported environment.
- Lights provide visual inputs to your child. Stick some reflector stickers of different colors on to the bottom of your pool to add in lighting effects. Also, shining light from flashlights (water proof) through colored butter papers provide a visual experience to your child. This can be made more fun, by cutting shapes across the papers eg: fish, dolphins, stars etc and shining light so that the same appears on water. To get a better effect, try this out at dusk.
- Have a music system nearby and play your child’s favorite tunes as he/ she splashes around in the water. Beat the water according to the rhythm of the song played.
- Everyone loves bubbles. Blow out bubbles/ if u have a bubble machine, place it close to the pool so that your child can try jumping up from the water to catch the bubbles. Add some salts to the water so that as your child thrashes the water, it becomes more foamy. You can also add in salts with aroma to stimulate/ calm your child.
- Always have your child’s toys at hand. Add in a squishy duck/ squirt gun/ rubber boat or any other to facilitate play in the water. If you have toys with different textures, then this can provide tactile inputs to your child. You can also place textured rubber mats at the floor of the pool.
Pool at home:
Inflatable pools or metal frame pools are quite handy for those who do not have a regular pool/ find it difficult to go to a recreational centre. The advantage of an inflatable pool is that it can be stored away after use and a metal frame pool gives you more depth. However both types will provide the benefits mentioned above.
Setting things up Safely
Always keep these in mind as you send your child in to the pool:
- The temperature of the water needs to be right. The water should be warm to allow your child to enjoy being in the water.
- If chlorinated water, always consider swimming goggles. Some children may find this restrictive so create games like being a diver, where swimming goggles is a vital part. Role plays may help the child to accept it better.
- Safety while playing in the pool is a great concern. Hence equip your child with floaters/ tubes. And always be around. It is not advised to allow your child to play alone even if it’s a shallow pool.
Last but not least, let me wind up with some water games you can try out:
- Simon says: every one knows Simon says, but play it in water to add more zest to the command. It can be standing on one leg, thrashing your arms and the plus to this game, along with the various sensations, your child will be following instructions with a smile on his face.
- Go Fish: using the flashlight technique mentioned above, shine light on a cut out of a fish. As you shine in different directions, your child has to try to catch the fish.
- Bucketing the ball: drop colored balls on the floor of the pool and place buckets of the same on the outside. On your command, the child has to pick the balls and throw it into the bucket. Make it more fun by having a timer or by having someone shout out the color of the balls that need to be picked up.
For more games try this site
Hope these ideas will get you started in having a cool summer. Do send in your experiences also to us.
* picture credit : http://www.a2zsellskidspools.com