Sink or Swim: Avoiding an Autism-Related Drowning
The number one cause of death of individuals with autism involve incidents
associated with wandering, which include exposure to the elements and drowning.
Both occur frequently and a quick glance at the latest autism news headlines
will reinforce these unfortunate statistics.
Children with autism are typically drawn to water. Regardless of the tactile stage of recovery,
we came from a safe, liquid-filled womb that the subconscious still remembers well.
Furthermore, water is soft and exerts equal, unchanging pressure evenly across the body, thereby
preventing the trigger of painful touch issues often found with tactile and sensory dysfunction.
Then there is the problem of not always having gag or panic reflexes. Autopsies of
autistic persons involved in accidents typically show no signs of struggle. Most
incidents involving a drowning happen within seconds, even to those with autism who have been in the water numerous
times. When submerged, water is inhaled into the lungs as if there were no built-in
receptors to stop this from happening. From bathtubs, to lakes and even public fountains,
individuals with autism will be drawn to water and need to be protected.
Since we can’t enclose our neighbor’s pools or the water fountains in community
parks, what shall we do?
The answer is quite simple: we must enroll our children in swimming
lessons. The YMCA is not just a great song from the 1970’s, but a great and
often forgotten resource that is very helpful for many activities. Membership at
your local "Y" will be very beneficial to both you and your child.
Upon joining, tell everyone that your child has autism. They may already have some good awareness or they might need some time to do research.
Drownings are happening at an alarming rate to those with autism. Protecting
your child can start by notifying your neighbors with pools and spas that your child is
autistic and is drawn to water. Public awareness is your responsibility and swimming lessons are a
must. They are also fun.
Get started immediately and don’t allow your child to become another tragic
statistic. You will find that the time spent together in and around the pool
area will be rewarding and a tremendous bonding experience as well.