Drowning death underscores importance of water safety for autistic children

The recent drowning death of an autistic six-year-old in Kaufman County is bringing to light the importance of water safety -- especially for those who have children on the autism spectrum.

Experts who study and work with children with autism say that they are more likely to be drawn to water. According to the National Autism Association, they are 160 times more likely to drown.

“Nobody really knows what it is that's attracting them [to water] but that is a physical comfort that we know kids feel with autism," Dr. Sally Fryer Dietz said. “The water is very calming to them because it's like being wrapped in a blanket, so we'll do pool therapy."

Pool therapy aims to teach children with autism how to swim. Six-year-old Hayden Kraft is in one such class right now. He’s swimming in a pool for 10 minutes each day for six weeks. He’s learned how to look up, float and breath – a technique called self-rescue.

“My fear of him being in water is completely gone now,” his mother Sherry Kraft said. “Completely gone.”

Jordan Benners, herself the mother of a six-year-old boy with autism, thinks that every child with the disorder needs to learn how to swim.

“We want every parent of a child with Autism to know how important swim lessons are,” Benners said. “These kiddos don't have words. But they can develop the skills to give them an extra few seconds.  That could be the difference between face up and face down."

For more information about swimming lessons for special needs children click here.