When you get to know other families of kids with autism, you quickly realize a terrific but unnerving pattern – they are drawn to water. Thankfully, Justin took to swimming pretty early and seems to be half boy/half fish, so I usually feel pretty safe. But, boy, can he give the lifeguards a scare. You see, he LOVES the feeling of floating and drifting – like allowing himself to drift to the bottom of the pool and hang out there til he needs air. yeah … just the kind of thing to panic a lifeguard. Freaks them out! But its sensory and relaxing for him. We had to create some rules so that he would be a swimmer in good standing … it all worked out.
But that love of water is wonderful – it opens up so many water sports and family fun … swimming, kayaking, SUP, surfing, etc. And the exercise is great too!
But on a more serious note,we have all seen the news and noticed how many times kids with autism stray from their homes, wander off, and water is often their first destination. Many times with tragic consequences. How many of our hearts have broken to hear of kids on the autism spectrum who were found too late – in the water – drowned. That’s the dark side of this attraction to water. And if you live in a beach town with lots of waterways, feeling confident that your kids are safe in the water is critical (for your own sanity as a parent …)
Which brings me to water safety, and the reason why so many of us LOVE Kellie Maier and her non-profit KelsKids.
Kellie devotes herself to working, playing and laughing with our kids with special needs in and on the water. She has been the key to water safety and joy on the water for so many of the kids in our community. Justin has taken classes, Joshua helps her out as a volunteer and assistant.
She’s committed to these kids and the love and caring just flows right out of her. Amazing!
Tonight is the fundraising event for KelsKids and many of us will be out in force – really to laugh, share, connect, and celebrate her work and our kids. We love you, Kellie!! Excited for this evening. Let’s all get there – checkbooks in hand – to generously bid on the auction and raise some money for this fantastic lady and org!
Photo credit to Suzi Noyes – awesome friend who captures amazing photographs of our kids adventures together.
9/1/15 UPDATE: Kaitlynn King, a 7-year old member of the autism community here in Virginia Beach, wandered from her home and drowned in her neighbors pool today. Devastating and tragic. We need more scholarships to help any spectrum family get water safety lessons and get water-safe. Please consider a donation of a scholarship in Kaitlynn’s memory. Kellie Maier is such a champion of spectrum kids and water safety. You can donate a scholarship by contacting Kellie at kelskids.org or at Kellie’s Facebook Page. Let’s help!