By Autism Dad and Fullerton Cares Autism Coalition Founder Larry Houser
As a dad of a six-year-old with autism, Larry Houser knows first hand that water safety for children with autism isn’t just important in the summer. Water can be overly attractive for kids with autism, a challenge that became well known after the story of Avonte Oquendo tragically ended in the water. Fullerton parent Larry Houser suggests these tips for water safety for children with autism:
- Learn by repetition. Break activities around the water into small repetitive steps for easy comprehension and generalization.
- Recognize sensory input. Water provides tactile and proprioceptive sensory input to children with autism and offer safe alternatives for children when seeking this type of input.
- Boundaries. Be sure to place physical boundaries between your child and any water source.
- Preempt wandering. Put alarms on your house and notify your child’s school of an attraction to water.
- Celebrate success! Water sports can help children with autism conquer challenges in other areas of life. Celebrate any small successes towards water safety.
Says Houser about his experience with water safety for his child with autism, “We began introducing our son to water at a very early age because I was terrified of this risk. Knowing of this elevated risk for people with autism, and with the help of these community resources, we can help our kids to become water safe together.”
ABOUT FULLERTON CARES: Awareness, acceptance and action are the pillars of Fullerton Cares, which spreads autism awareness throughout North Orange County and was founded by Lawrence Houser, after being inspired by his son, Boyd, with autism. Raising funds for autism charities and programs in Fullerton schools through organized events, Fullerton Cares was founded in 2010 and has raised over $53,000 for autism initiatives.
ABOUT AUTISM: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism now affects about 1 in every 68 American children, including 1 in 42 boys. Autism is a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges.