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Autistic kids can dive?

Discussion in 'Divers with Disabilities' started by gehadoski, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. gehadoski

    gehadoski Liveaboard

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Cairo, Egypt, Egypt
    441
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    Hi all

    I have a friend of mine, she has a wonderfull little princess that is autistic. She is wondering if her daughter can scuba dive or snorkel. Her daughter is just 7 years old, I know that minmum age for diving is 12 years old or there is another corss "Bubble Makers". We are asking when she reach the min age is there is a chance for her to dive.

    She really live sea and marine life. I really hope I can make her happy and give her a chance to see and enjoy marine life. I am a divemaster and have around 800 dives under my belt. I know diving, but I am not that familier with autism and disability diving. Thanks in advance for your help and advice
     
  2. herbdb

    herbdb Manta Ray Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Allentown, PA
    1,241
    283
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    Autism is a spectrum disease and it really depends on the degree. My 24 year old son is on the higher functioning end of the spectrum. He communicates well but requires special education and is very bad at andling social situations. He can get very anxious in new situations.

    He started diving when he was 18. We discussed this in detail with his psychiatrist and instructor before starting. The main concerns in his case were anxiety and making sure he understood the academic side of the course. He is excellent at parroting back information without truly undertanding it.

    He really wanted to dive and the two of us took the OW course together. He loved it so much that he did not display abnormal anxiety and with some extra help learned and understood the course material. He is now a very competent diver. He now has 100+ dives and has advanced to rescue diver and is nitrox certified.

    He is very proud of his accomplishments.
     
  3. MooreaMike

    MooreaMike Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Michigan, USA
    63
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    I was in the pool Saturday with a fully certified student who is fairly functional but well into the autism scale. It is part of what we do at Diveheart. Check out their Facebook and website, also look for an HSA or IAHD trained DM or Instructor in Isreal.
     
  4. bluephoenix

    bluephoenix Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location:
    25
    11
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    as herbdb wrote autism is a spectrum condition and it depends on every person who can learn to dive, as it does in non-autistic individuals
    interestingly, some autistic individuals understand a lot without be able to communicate in a way others understand easily. So it is feasible, that sometimes the first sight is completly different to what is possible.
    if other medical issues are ok and she loves being in the water, try it, diving additionnally can be positive for autistic individuals also in some other aspects, as the sensory workload is quite different under water and the communication is much more directly etc. - in the other thread about autism and diving there might be some points which perhaps can be useful :)
    http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/divers-disabilities/154909-autism-diving.html
    feel free to ask in more detail
     
    undrwater likes this.
  5. pasley

    pasley Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, CA
    3,121
    198
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    Autism is one of the disabilities that Handicapped SCUBA Association International (HSA) certifies HSA instructors to teach. Not only can they dive (depending as stated above on the individual) but it has been reported that some individuals with Autism show some benefit from SCUBA. Not saying that is always the case, but it has been reported. This is a controversial area and the science of any possible benefit is not at this point fully understood. For more on this Google HBOT and Autism.
     
    undrwater likes this.
  6. Lopez116

    Lopez116 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Orange County, CA
    767
    204
    43
    That is awesome.
     
  7. DocVikingo

    DocVikingo Senior Member

    5,721
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  8. MrChen

    MrChen Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Stuart, Florida
    1,064
    679
    113
    How awesome! My daughter is 6 and is autistic. Most people don't even realize she's autistic unless I point it out. She currently goes to a specialized schooling program but they think in the next year or two that she'll be able to attend regular classes. She does extremely well in 1 to 1 environments. She's highly intelligent and always listening, even if it doesn't seem like she's paying attention. I too would love for her to one day go diving with me, but unfortunately for me, she's a big chicken. She loves the water, but is too scared to try and swim (even with floaties). She loves riding a bike, but as soon as she feels she's balancing, she freaks out. She'll ride her scooter but god forbid she balances without a foot on the ground. I try to get her to wear a mask so she can see under water and she tells me it's time to go home LOL.

    My oldest is 14 and has Cerebral Palsy and is wheelchair bound. She loves the water and is fearless. Not that she can challenge herself much, but she really wants to experience the world. She even got her boating safety license this year! She's dying to go on a boat, but we don't have one and our friends that do either have their boats under repair or they sold them. I asked her if she'd like to scuba one day and she said, "I wish." It's my dream one day to get enough experience and high enough dive level so that I can join one of the local dive organizations that helps those with disabilities dive. It's awesome to see that organizations for the disabled exist and have the support needed to thrive.

    But back on topic, it all depends on the person with autism. If my little one wasn't such a chicken, which I doubt has anything to do with autism, I would have already purchased her snorkel equipment.

    What I've learned with my daughter is that I can't rush her into anything otherwise she won't do it. The local water park has big water slides and small ones. She wouldn't go near the large slides, so I just let her be. One day, I see her running from the small water slides towards the big ones. I ran to catch up and she went for it. This year, she won't go near them again. I'm still waiting for her to go for it. But how is any of this different than children without autism? I believe it's just her demeanor and has nothing to do with her autism.
     
  9. herbdb

    herbdb Manta Ray Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Allentown, PA
    1,241
    283
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    Keep a close eye on your daughters performance in school as she moves up. My son has an amazing memory and did very well in school until 3rd grade when more analysis was required.

    He could regurgitate facts, but if asked to do something that required processing those facts he had troubles. For example, he could memorize a poem, but would not be able explain it. He required special education for all of his schooling.

    As for your other daughter, it may be possible. IAHD works with divers with many handicaps. One young woman, Lauren, gave a talk to our dive club about her experiences. She is a quadraplegic, totally wheelchair bound and only had limited use of one arm, which allowed her to steer her wheelchair. The IAHD team modified her wetsuit to allow her assistants to more easily help her into it, fitted a full face mask, and came up with a harness for her assistants to use towing her. She was totally dependent on her helpers, but is able to enjoy the wonders of our underwater world. You should have seen to look on her face when she was describing it. Amazing! Here is a link to her story. Lauren ?O? in the land of the Manatees | Dave's Dive (b)Log

    Here is a link that might get you started. These courses are free and adaptive equipment is primarily donated.
    Adaptive Scuba Programs
     
    MrChen likes this.
  10. MrChen

    MrChen Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Stuart, Florida
    1,064
    679
    113
    Definitely. Autism affects every child differently (much like Cerebral Palsy). Some things she'll absorb (reading, writing, math), but she still lags in communication skills. I signed her up for gymnastics so she could get used to working in structured groups. Depending on her mood, she will sometimes lead the other kids, follow at the back of the line patiently, or simply do what she wants (which is a no no). But she always did the latter at the beginning. Every week prior to class I would explain to her that she needs to listen, do her stretches (she hated stretching), stop laying on the ground, follow the other kids, wait in line, don't skip exercise objectives, etc. One week in her 2nd month she didn't get a sticker because she kept wanting to do a different exercise and she was devastated. Now she runs up to me after practice with a big smile and we celebrate that she got a sticker. Last weekend, she did so amazingly well, even the coach came over to mention what a difference her behavior patterns are compared to day 1.

    Thank you for letting me share my story...

    A full mask! I was wondering how she would clear. I hadn't even thought of it. I will bookmark the sites, thank you for sharing.

    Back to the OP, what have you decided? Does she swim? How does she do with a mask/snorkel?
     
    shermhw likes this.

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