Why Are Kids With Autism Attracted To Water

Nadia Shanab | autism, general advice, parenting, tips
22 Jun 2015

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children with autism. It can happen even in a shallow pond.

But first let’s find out why are kids with autism drawn to water?

  • Going under water blocks out undesirable noises and sounds.
  • Hiding under water surface is an escape from the stressful demands and request the child is supposed to fulfill.
  • Being under water makes the child believe that she has finally found her own world, peacefully isolated from all possible troubles.
  • When wrapped and contained in a body of water, the child enjoys the soothing effect of the water’s pressure, it feels like a big hug to her.
  • Or maybe it’s a nostalgia for mom’s safe belly!

Where is the danger lurking?

Many kids with autism, especially the severe cases, have language and communication issues. They are unable to tell their parents what they want to do. So, they take off and wander when they feel compelled to do something outside the house. It takes a few minutes for a child to drown. It could be in your bath tub, or your neighbor’s pool, or any other body of water. The problem is that some kids with autism fear no danger. The notion of being in a life-threatening situation is just not there.

Tips: How to prevent a child from drowning?

  • Teach your child the important survival skill of: water safety skills. It should be taught by a person trained to work with children on the autism spectrum. Just by learning how to breathe and float can save lives.
  • Swim lessons are very important too, but water safety lessons come first.
  • Be vigilant! The child can also use a window, not only a door, to wander.
  • A dog can be a life savior. It accompanies your child wherever she goes, and would alarm you of the danger, if trained to do so.
  • Take a First Aid and CPR training, to be prepared in case of emergency.


Find out about water safety skills and swim lessons in your community. It is a priority. Summer is a great time of the year to be in the water.

Have a great and safe summer!

nadia shanab

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