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Autism and Diving

Discussion in 'Divers with Disabilities' started by Bobbin-along, Aug 15, 2006.

  1. Nik Wills

    Nik Wills Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: United Kingdom
    11
    0
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    Hi, I have joined this forum today in response to this thread, I have been a volunteer helper for just over 3 years with the Scuba Trust a charity that helps people with a wide range of disabilities learn to dive, in fact I was actually looking for ideas to help a fellow diver who has autism together with learning difficuilties. Students are allowed to learn at their own pace, the confined water sessions are held monthly for 2 hours.
    I will not name the diver in question, but having read the above I believe my experiences may help others so I will call him Bert. Bert had a long standing ambition to scuba dive, his helper looked on the internet and found the Scuba Trust. Bert joined the Scuba Trust about the same time as myself, and gradually worked through his Open Water course finally completing his open water dives in August 2011. Bert continued to keep coming to the monthly try dives and in fact still does.
    Although a charity the ST has more of a club feel and twice a year embarks on club trips abroad, last year Bert decided he would like to go on the October Egypt trip to Sharm el Sheik for a weeks holiday with 10 dives spread over 5 day boat trips. Over the following months I learnt to become creative with exercises to help Bert improve his bouyancy, ie, swim bricks scattered around the pool and weighted hoops on the bottom, the idea being to pick up the first brick adjusting bouyancy to swim through the first hoop, then collect a second brick, through the next hoop until he was able to carry up to 5 bricks. We also selected 4 or 5 of the skills to run through during each session. Bert was keen to use his camera so that was saved for the end of the session when I would arrange the bricks and place toy rubber sea creatures amongst them whereby he would take pictures but was not allowed to touch the bottom.
    I went on the trip in October and as a Divemaster and having built a diving relationship in the pool with Bert was asked to be his buddy on his first days diving, he was quite excited and at the same time nervous before the first dive pretty much like any other diver entering the open sea for the first time. I had many thoughts going through my mind as we geared up and did our buddy checks, all went ok through out the dive in fact very well thinking back on it, he kept a respectful distance from the reef, had a tendancy to hold on to me during the dive and remembered all the hand signals, the rest of the group were quite suprised he had taken his camera with him on that first dive!! On the second dive he forgot his camera but that I believe helped him to enjoy the experience even more, by the end of the 10 dives the step change in his confidence and his abilities were clearly visible.
    In conclusion much like any student that learns to dive, disabled or not, it is important that the instructor is given all infomation that is relevant, and perhaps with the Scuba Trust students have the luxury of taking as long as is needed to qualify, that students who learn with a dive centre who have to make a profit only have a set time limit in which to learn and pass are not as good divers as Bert. Bert is now preparing to start his PADI Advanced course.
    Now to the real reason for my internet search ~ since the trip in October Bert continues to attend the monthly pool sessions, he has become quite competant at the 20 or so skills that are required for the OW, and I want to find some more creative exercises for him to develop his skills in the confines of the swimming pool ~ does anyone have any suggestions, I will feedback with updates as to the enjoyment level and success rate.
    I look forward to your responses ~ until then happy bubble making.
     
  2. lsorenson

    lsorenson Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    797
    107
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    Even though this thread started back in 2006 I wonder what the outcome was with the OP and the student... I have a niece who is autistic and I hope this thread will continue to educate me and others who know and love someone with autism...! It also has me thinking on how or what I can do to help others with special needs for lack of a better term!!! lee
     
  3. Nik Wills

    Nik Wills Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: United Kingdom
    11
    0
    0
    Hi Lee,

    there is an American organisation that helps people with disabilities learn to dive, they had a stand at a show last year in the UK, I will see if I can find their card and will post their details.

    I will update 'Bert's' progress as he will be starting his PADI Advanced course soon.
     
  4. lsorenson

    lsorenson Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    797
    107
    43
    Thanks Nik... I would really appreciate the information... and I will look forward to Bert's progress!!! lee
     
  5. DocVikingo

    DocVikingo Senior Member

    5,721
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    A number of such organizatiosns are well-know in the scuba community and in fact some of Scubaboard.com's members are instructors or members of IAHD.

    - International Association for Handicapped Divers
    IAHD

    - Handicap Scuba Association

    - Disabled Divers International
    Home

    Regards,

    DocVikingo
     
  6. lsorenson

    lsorenson Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    797
    107
    43
    Thanks DocV for the link... lee
     
  7. MooreaMike

    MooreaMike Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Michigan, USA
    63
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    One of the largest facilitative adaptive diving orgs which will also deal with developmental (HSA is primarily physical/injury) is Diveheart. Look at Diveheart.org or for their Facebook page.
    palso, depending on where you are there may be a local facilitating org, such s Diveheart UK, Achilles Divers in Pensacola, etc. You are prolly better off contacting one of these rather than a certifying org such as HSA or IAHD. I am developing a centralized cloud-based adaptive diving database, but am some weeks or months time from going live.
     
  8. bluephoenix

    bluephoenix Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location:
    25
    11
    0
    very nice to read he seems to enjoy diving and you helped him a bit to be able to do so
    as far as I know, diving has many benefits for autistic people
    referring to your question, it would be nice if you could specify it, as I am an autistic diver perhaps I could help, but as many autistic people I have problems with non-definite questions as in this case I do not know where to start and to end
     
  9. Oldbear

    Oldbear Teaching Neutral Diving

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Marshall Islands and Westminster, Co
    2,685
    1,016
    113
    When I chose to go to graduate school, my graduate advisor was Dr. Temple Grandin Welcome to Temple Grandin's Official Autism Website at Colorado State University. I choose her not for her notoriety, but for her approach to handling different problems/situations in the cattle industry. Over the next two years, I learned more about myself and how to handle my own inner demons, dyslexia, then I had in the previous 28 years of my life. Even though I am no longer engaged in the cattle industry, those lessons have been more important to me in life then the formal education.

    After school, I worked with the Colorado Special Olympic for 10+ years and I am always amazed by just how these individuals approach things. I think that a good thing to remember is everybody approaches new challenges differently. While some people, regardless of physical/mental state, will not be able to bridge the gap between land and underwater activities, most who have the desire to will cross that bridge, they just might not take the express lane to do so.

    My hat off to all those instructors who take the time, effort and energy to work with challenged, but not incapable, divers.

    ~Oldbear~
     
  10. Nik Wills

    Nik Wills Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: United Kingdom
    11
    0
    0
    Hi, the Scuba Trust meets once a month for a 3 hour pool session, as part of the session I run through 4 or 5 of the skills originally required for the Open Water qualification. I will be starting compass work with him next month in preperation for the navigation part of his advanced - Is there a special technique that you used for using the compass in diving? Do you have any suggestions for pool exercises that would help Bert with his diving in open water?
    Cheers Nik
     

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