Growing up with an autistic brother, Brian was always drawn to the water.
Whenever my family and I go to the beach, Brian is never too far away from the ocean. During those hot summer months, not a day goes by when Brian is not in the backyard swimming. If he ever has a meltdown, he will either go into the pool or the shower and within an hour he usually calms down. The water seems to do something to him I cannot explain.
As I have become more and more familiar with the autism spectrum, I have found many other autistic individuals share Brian’s love for the water. Out in Montgomery County, two autistic boys have found peace in the swimming pools. Some have tried to explain the phenomenon, but the reasons vary.
A few years ago, my mom and Brian went for a walk around the neighborhood. During their walk, my mom stopped to talk to someone. No matter who takes Brian out, he is always within sight, but that day he somehow slipped away. Thankfully, my mom had her phone with her and called my dad and I. We started searching for Brian immediately.
Once I found my mom, we bolted into the woods. Something within my mom told her to head for the water. After what seemed like an eternity, we reached a large creek. I spotted Brian waist high in the rushing water and waded out to help him back to dry land.
I don’t know what drew Brian to that creek, but that story has always resonated with me.
Almost one year ago, a similar story happened to a man with Asperger’s syndrome. William Martin LaFever went missing in Arizona. After a three week search, he was found in a river 40 miles from where he originally set out.
Ray Gardner, a search team member, said recent training had taught him that autistic people are drawn to water. Because of this information, the helicopter narrowed its searching area to the Escalante River.
The idea of autistic people being drawn to water has sparked some discussion. On an autism and asperger’s forum called “Wrong Planet,” some say they love the water. While others are the opposite.
Atomsk said: “I like hearing water, being near it, being in it, but I really don’t like to swim, or often get wet. Even in the shower, with hot water, it feels startling to have the water touch me. I have a lot of issues with tactile stuff. Once I get wet though it’s no problem. However, I still don’t like swimming much, because I’ve come very close to drowning several times. So now I just don’t feel like risking it.”
Joe90 said: “I don’t know where they got this from. I’m not drawn to water, I never even drink water. I prefer juice or milk or coke or other drinks like that.”
While the subject is still up for discussion, the subject itself is intriguing. Some autistic people love taking baths but dislike taking showers. They do not like how the water hits them. Brian and Atomsk differ as well. Brian loves to swim while Atomsk is content listening to the water. Whatever the reasons may be, it is another piece to the puzzle of autism.