This past summer I learned that there were several activities that had a natural calming ability on my son. One was riding on a roller coaster a couple of times – but this was also kind of tricky because sometimes the roller coaster would cause overstimulation. The second activity ALWAYS worked. If we were having a bad day, or a super silly day, or kind of sluggish day we would head to the pool. It amazed me how he would at first just stick his toe in the water, but within minutes he would be jumping, splashing, and paddling.
It soon became apparent that the natural resistance found in the water acted as a perfect muscle strengthener and built Chase’s core. The hydrostatic pressure provided his joints with a heightened awareness, which is crucial to a child that struggles with proprioceptive dysfunction. One of the things that Chase lacks is the ability to recognize where his body is in relation to space which leads to difficulties with body movement.
Another system that is a bit out of wack for Chase is the vestibular system, which contributes to balance and spatial awareness. In Chase’s case, being out of wack in regards to the vestibular sense has stymied his development of balance, coordination, eye control, attention, being secure with movement and language development. No wonder he needs glasses, is such a sensory seeker, has abnormalities in muscle tone, academic problems, and deals with anxiety. No wonder Chase didn’t start walking until after 22 months, hates walking on a balance beam, and holds on for dear life when going up an unfamiliar playground.
Studies show that swimming as a form of therapy builds balance, agility, muscle strength, and actually aides in language development – which is key to learning to read. Who would have thought that swimming could be a means to reading intervention. WOW!!!!!
In the last two weeks we have done quite a bit of traveling. One requirement of traveling with our son is making sure that he has adequate ways to deal with excess energy. We brought his new stretchy band, his weighted blankets, and this time we even brought his swim suit. Last week we noticed that swimming had a calming effect on Chase that allowed him to spend time with his grandmother without bouncing off the walls.
I loved watching him become comfortable in the water. He stood at the top, stepped down into the water and jumped back out. I walked into the pool and grabbed his little sister. He stepped down into the pool again, and down another step. He gingerly stepped to the bottom step and clung onto the hand rail. He watched me bounce in the water with Emma, and he began to bounce. He walked out into the water and noticed that it came to his neck. He practically flew back to safety. I handed Emma over to Dee and asked Chase if he wanted to go in the water. The entire time spent in the pool I had Chase or Emma in my arms, but we all had a blast.
The kids insisted on swimming before bed. It turned out to be the best sleep aide in the world. Not only that but Daddy needed the snuggle!!!!
The following trip down I knew that I wanted a little more freedom in the pool. Not only that but I wanted to give my children a little more independence. Each time we stopped to stretch our legs on our trip we found a Walmart and went in search of floaties. It wasn’t until we crossed into Arkansas at our final stop that we finally found what we were looking for. I loved watching Emma practically jump in the pool and giggle as she swam on her own. Chase repeated the process of getting into the pool from the last time, but soon he too was growing wings and
E. Morin (N.D.) Positive impacts of exersize for children with autism. http://www.pelinks4u.org/articles/ElyseMorin0309.htm