New guy with Aspy son looking for scuba advice

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My son has Aspergers and has not been a strong swimmer. I found that it was because the cheapy Amazon mask that kept letting in water. Due to the Asperger, he gets overwhelmed quickly with too much stimuli that he hasn't been able to master or at least come to terms with. Water up the nose triggers him quickly. The ill-fitting mask makes it almost impossible.
I took him to a local Dallas dive shop and got us all fitted with high quality masks. The very next swim, he was doing underwater backflips and diving to the 6' deep end bottom of the pool! Couldn't do that if he tried before the mask.
My parents bought him tickets to do the indoor skydiving thing at iFly. I thought..there's no way this will happed without him becoming over-stimulated. His instructor and I kept a close eye...he freakin LOVED it and was hyper-focused and very very relaxed. The flight instructor said he was one of the better new kid aged fliers he's had.
I thought about what other things may be out there that would allow him to focus so comfortably like that while having very little other stimuli.

Do y'all think that scuba would be good for something like that? I've find almost no info on Aspies and scuba diving. After he builds more confidence and swimming skill, we will start with snorkeling in a friend's pool. I want him to get comfortable with his face in the water for a longer period of time.

Then scuba?
 

Marie13

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Check out Diveheart. They did a small study with Autistic individuals (teenagers, I think) and found it was really helpful.
 
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CHRIS MCCOLLUM
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Just looked. They don't have an office in Dallas unfortunately. I'll search their site for more data on Aspies. Thanks!
 

Bob DBF

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Water up the nose triggers him quickly. The ill-fitting mask makes it almost impossible.
I took him to a local Dallas dive shop and got us all fitted with high quality masks. The very next swim, he was doing underwater backflips and diving to the 6' deep end bottom of the pool! Couldn't do that if he tried before the mask.

Marie has a great suggestion.

My concern is that you have solved the problem with the mask, but the underlying behavior caused by water up the nose is still there. Until that behavior is changed, diving is not a good choice. Everyone has to get over that when diving, it's a matter of finding someone who can work with your son to overcome the issue.
 

Marie13

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I would contact them. They might be able to recommend an instructor local to you. They’re in the Chicago area and I’ve seen them out at the local quarry during their annual dive day there.
 

dlofting

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I know very little about Asperger's Syndrome, but noted that your son gets overwhelmed quickly with too much stimuli. I'm wondering how he would react to a mask flood or an out of air situation, as two examples of what can happen when scuba diving. Can he learn to deal with these issues like these on his own given enough time to practice ?
 
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CHRIS MCCOLLUM
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I know very little about Asperger's Syndrome, but noted that your son gets overwhelmed quickly with too much stimuli. I'm wondering how he would react to a mask flood or an out of air situation, as two examples of what can happen when scuba diving. Can he learn to deal with these issues like these on his own given enough time to practice ?
Great question! That's what I'm exploring. When in the water and with high quality tech (a good mask in this case), the stimuli seems to be reduced. He's high functioning (used to be called Aspergers....hi IQ with low impulse control and social skills). This allowed me to teach him how to hold his breath underwater for an extended time in a few minutes. He reasoned through it quickly and was comfortable quickly. I taught him how to clear water out of his mask (with practice runs) in about the same time.
He was joyous and spent the next 5 minutes doing deep (for him) dives doing underwater backflips and rolls and swimming to the 6' bottom...this was all in a 15 minute timeframe. While the "low impulse control" for him can be problematic, he's high functioning enough that he can be taught through many problems. The interesting metaphor with this and iFly is that when in these highly focused environments, he seems to excel. I don't know....just exploring at this point.

About that iFly deal, when we put him in the skydiving chamber for 5 minutes in 1 minute increments. He had zero problems. Aspies don't have zero problems in high input situations.
This feels similar, but we'll see as we proceed cautiously.

To answer your question, it appears that he can learn to overcome underwater issue at the most basic level given good gear and patient teaching. But further testing will dictate where this goes.

I think the next step may be to hire a private snorkeling and then scuba diver to cater to just him and me as his buddy. I'll connect with the Diveheart.org folks this week and see.
 

mc42

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I’m sure you’ve already researched a bit, but there are articles on Asperger’s and diving and the potential therapeutic benefits such as the pressure sensation and the lack of sensory stimulation underwater.

When you feel ready to pursue actual dive training, definitely try to find someone experienced with adaptive teaching approaches, and/or be there as a support person that can provide suggestions for alternative ways to teach skills to your son. Also understand that with agencies like PADI, underwater skills do not have to be done in exact, prescribed ways - as long as you can complete skills consistently, you can pass the certification.

There is also “lower” certification level, Scuba Diver, that requires one to dive with a dive guide, but may be an easier path towards certification. Starting with snorkeling sounds like a great way to gauge interest and readiness for moving on.

All the best!
 

lowwall

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You'll definitely want to work with knowledgeable professionals on this.

I would only note that stressors are occasionally unavoidable in scuba: visibility can drop to nothing, masks get kicked off or a strap breaks, currents can push you where you don't want to go, surface conditions can get ugly, regulators can freeflow, you can get stuck on fishing line. The ability to deal with these things calmly and methodically is a necessity if you want to be a safe diver.

Depending on what the pros say, an alternative may be the PADI Scuba Diver certification (or its equivalent from other agencies). This allows someone who can't pass the full Open Water course to dive with certain limitations, including a max depth of 40' and all dives must be with a DM or instructor.
 

Jayfarmlaw

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No need to make the decision now. See how the snorkeling goes. There is a big difference between the indoor skydiving and breathing underwater. Given his reaction to a leaking mask, I would be hesitant to do anything other than Pool diving in immediate contact with an instructor.

I don't know enough about your son (age and capabilities) to really answer the question, but I have taken a friend's daughter underwater in their pool and just let her breathe for a minute or so. I don't know her exact medical diagnosis, but I'll just leave it at "issues" severe enough that she will never live alone unsupervised. It did not really register with her to the point she loved it or hated it. I was directly in front of her at all times and all we had to do is stand up if there were any problems.

Would his doctor sign off on a medical release in the first place?

See how the snorkeling goes, if there is an interest, see if you can find an instructor and a pool to do a try dive the go from there. The instructor can make a recommendation as to what to do from there once he has worked with your son.

Good luck,
Jay
 
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