On the hottest day of the year (Saturday 29th June), Guildford’s Lido took 1,000 online advance bookings – everyone wanted to achieve the same thing, reaching those crystal cool waters.

In my own house my son saw his wish granted back in April of this year when after many months of waiting for the days to creep away from winter into spring, he was finally able to get our hot-tub back out.

Lugged in from the garden shed, re-inflated, hose pipe on the go, he was soon straight in despite it being a more modest ten degrees outdoors.

My son who is autistic has worked out fleeing to water gives him a calm space, once immersed he can clear his mind, play and swim. Almost dolphin like, from birth he loved water and there was a time he was taking seven baths a day just to be within water.

As a parent of a child who is on the autistic spectrum I have seen time and time again the benefits of our hot tub in calming him down, clearing his mind and raising happier emotions. In my work too, at Cherry Trees we know how many of the children and young people with disabilities that come to us love water.

There is a link, a power that water has on people with disabilities and acutely so, those with autism.  

In a recent online article I came across ‘Autism and Water: Why Autistic People Are Drawn to Water’, author Diana Goodwin writes about ‘the supreme sensory stimuli that water presents’. Reflecting on the different forms water can take (from a lake to the sea), the sensations and feelings it can rouse in us are special because water can reach all our senses: visually, audibly, the touch, taste and smell.

Water is a multi-sensory experience – be it from the taste of salt water on our lips in the ocean, to the sound of a flowing stream water pricks our senses. However for autistic people whose brains are less likely to process all the stimulants in one go it means when they feel the splashing of the water they really feel it – sensory overload – and wow does it feel good?!

When certain children come to Cherry Trees for an evening, we have washing up bowls filled with cool water for them to splash their hands, float toys in and gaze into. One boy has been coming to us for several years LOVES water – be it in any guise; puddles, flowing from the tap, from a watering can or being in an actual pool.

Last summer we took a group of Cherry Trees children down to a local farm, where the owners had opened their doors to us with the generous use of their own private pool. This particular boy was one of the first straight in, playing for hours accompanied by his trusty watering can, pouring and playing with water for him it was a jackpot day out.

For another of our children Alex, was more taken with the tractors in the farm yard repeatedly going round and round. But after some persuasion to join the others at the pool and put his hands in, splashing followed and then he was in, fully clothed, ear defenders – the lot!

Nestled in Shere the village has their own swimming pool. Their May 2019 updates on their news pages cite: ‘enabling greater participation in swimming at the pool from within the local community, including from the local schools, those needing to swim to become fitter and through providing access to and special changing facilities for those with disabilities.’ Cherry Trees has been invited to work closely with the Pool’s committee, advising on the modernization and community broadening project so that people with disabilities can get changed, be hoisted in and out of the turquoise bliss and do the thing we know they love to do – splash, play and immerse. `

If you are sitting ready this by your pool ask yourself if there is a friend you know or even a local special needs school that could come for a visit in the heat of summer, to see, smell, touch, taste and hear your pool. 

Want to make your pool available to a child with autism and would like to do your bit for your community ?

Contact Cherry Trees on 01483 222 507, to be put in touch. 

Know some-one who has a child with autism but may not of taken them swimming yet - please share this blog post.