By Gena Mann
Summer is hands down our favorite season. I know, I know, how does one live in the northeast with often long, brutal winters only caring for summer? My kids and I most definitely live 10 months for two. All four of them are happiest outside, barefoot, and frequently swimming or playing in the water. Obviously safety is the most important thing when it comes to swimming pools, especially for kids with ASD and other sensory needs who often seek out bodies of water whether or not they can swim. What I learned about safety from raising two boys with ASD is swim lessons early on are key (mine both started at three-years-old) and obviously constant supervision in and around water is imperative. I basically didn't sit down when we were in the vicinity of a body of water until they were five years old. We had several different floaties over the years while they were learning, but something new I just discovered for my youngest daughter (she is two ) that we both love is the puddle jumper. I find that it is truly the safest feeling floaty any of my kids has ever had and she is able to be fairly independent in the pool which she loves because, you know, she is two! It's a safe bet she will be in it for the next couple of years until she is water safe. And these Dolphin Fin vests are pretty awesome too for kids with a little more swimming experience. Kids love to wear it because each design has a flexible fin on the back to help kids get carried away with imaginative play.
When my kids are not in the water, all four of them are playing with our water table—there are endless opportunities for imaginative play—fish swimming with dinosaurs, boats, a couple of my measuring cups and my daughter will throw in just about anything she can find! I love when all four play together and I love when one activity actually engages the entire age range of my kids (from 13 down to 2!).
Another great activity I learned from my eldest son’s speech therapist, is using water balloons. My son practices his speech and language skills, using verbs (fill, pour, throw) and then gets to direct his siblings which color balloon to pick up and where to toss them. I love that she has engaged all of the kids in his speech lessons :)
There are so many ways to involve kids in water play! What do you love doing with yours?