Monday, July 9, 2012

Proximity at the Pool

At our house, summer means getting by (almost) with one outfit: a swimsuit! And lots of lazy, hazy, days spent lounging at the pool; many times until the sun starts to set.

Normally, I am always in very close proximity to Ashi because she has a tendancey to wander. I've spent the last 8 years teaching her to stay close to me; prevention is best!

But, this year, Ashi has a new found freedom! She is able to swim anywhere in the pool by herself. 

Since my 2 1/2 year old is also half-fish, I have to stay with him at all times and the two kids usually don't swim in the same place. This short lived dilemma has now become a new learned skill: that it is important for Ashi to always know where I am and for me to always know where she is, even if we are at a distance. And that we both have to do our part to make that happen.

I can handle my end, but as with all lessons that should have a natural intuitiveness about them, but don't, I instill them as a habit, as a rule, as a law instead of relying on Ashi's instinct.  Ashi, being a young autist, learns best this way.

Since she cannot distinguish between the din around her, and me on the 'shore' shouting to get her attention (it all sounds like the same mess to her), we regrouped and made up hand signals for "Come here." "I'm going over there," and "Stop." We made it a game and practiced the hand signals until we were comfortable. Now I don't have to holler above the crowd to communicate, but we both still need to know where the other is because we may be far apart. 

While Ashi doesn't always remember which beach chairs we're using, she is doing a great job of remembering to seek me out to see if I'm making any hand signals. She's underwater about as much as she is above it (as mermaids will do) but, when she comes up for air, she makes sure she knows where I am.  I'm really proud of her!!  Of course, the important part is consistancy. Judging from our great tans so far, I'd say were getting in plenty of laps!

If your child already knows how to swim, the pool is the actually a great place to learn this kind of proximity because it's much more controlled than on land. The places to wander are limited and there is no traffic. Also there are no teeth baring, shoestring-slobber-dripping pets, such as our neighbor dog, Killer (mistakenly named Belle.) Plus, I can still swim faster than she can!

If you've thought about teaching your child to swim, this is another excellent reason to do so.  After learning the concept at the pool, it will spill over into other areas, such as at the park, zoo, and the grocery store. Enjoy your summer!!  *Splash!!* 

Annie Eskeldson is the author of the Ashi's Gift Series which can be found at  She is blessed with 2 autistic children, she provides their therapy and also homeschools.  Her oldest autist was the most unsocial person she'd ever known, until her youngest was born!  Now at 8, Ashi makes a new bff everyday at the pool.  If you need someone to categorize your toys according to manufacturer - she's your girl!! She still loves a good book while riding in the grocery cart. 


  1. Love the pic of the three of you!
    Spencer and I also have hand signals. Not only has it helped, but keeps me from yelling and sounding ridiculous like the other parents! LOL

    1. YES!!!! I hear you!!! pun intended!! It did seem the obvious thing to do and at first I thought I was going to have to reinvent the wheel, but we really found that just 3 signals covered everything. Good for you and Spencer! Now, if we could just hang out at the pool together!

  2. It seems like your kids are enjoying the water! Looking at Ashi’s pictures; she looks quite happy swimming in the water – she is a natural! It is good that kids are exposed to these kinds of activities at an early age. Swimming and other water activities can harness their love for sports, and it is a great bonding activity too. But you still have to keep an eye on them while they are in the pool, and take some necessary preparation and precaution. But I think you got that area covered. :-)[Cathy Newman]

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