Courtney has a very strong love/hate relationship with water. She is one who can spot water of any kind a mile away. A puddle of water, a pond, a cup of water…she will find it and will want to find a way to play with it or in it.
On the flip side, she hates water. Actually, it’s more a fear. She can not handle the sound of running water at all! I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult bathroom are. She even hates baths because there is a faucet that could potentially be turned on. Fortunately bath time has improved. Her therapists are helping us with her washing her hands because that involves running water.
As much as Courtney loves to play in water, she can only handle it if the water is below her knees. Anything above the knees, her heart starts beating out of her chest and she’s forms a death grip on the adult next to her. It breaks my heart to see this fear knowing she loves the water so much. I would do anything to help her conquer this fear.
The running water is because of her noise sensitivity and we are finding ways to work with that. The fear of water above her knees? We are pretty sure it has something to do with the loss of control she feels when her feet can’t touch the ground. We can even hold her in the water. She struggles with swings for the same reason. Her feet are not grounded. The girl can climb all heights but when she loses that sense of gravity because her feet aren’t grounded, forget it!
A couple years ago we had Courtney in Aqua Therapy. There are so many benefits to Aqua therapy. I so badly wanted it to be a positive experience for her. Session after session we hoped she would suddenly start liking it but it never happened. I keep hoping to go back to it. I’ll watch her enjoy a baby pool or zero depth pool and think maybe just maybe we can get to enjoy bigger pools and aqua therapy but then when we visit a big pool my hopes fade.
Of course we can spend plenty of time at a place with baby pools or zero depth pools but then you stay at a hotel with a beautiful big pool and no baby pool. Her little sister loving every moment of being in it but all Courtney can handle is pacing as her heart races. Well that’s how the first trip to the pool at The Grand Hotel went. Day 2 there was progress. We went down to the pool as a family of 4 with all sorts of back up plans so both girls can enjoy the hour. Joe was prepared to swim with Alyssa and I was prepared to run in the open area with Courtney. It ended up Courtney was completely content pacing around the pool. While pacing, she started going to the steps of the pool and tipping her toe in. Each trip to the steps she seemed more at ease. Eventually she even got 3 steps in! She then even enjoyed sitting at the edge of the hot tub with Joe!
I think the huge baby steps is why I’ve always enjoyed working with children with autism. Those small baby steps just feel so big and so rewarding. 3 steps and feet dangling is huge and I will celebrate it!