This is what we’ve been doing this summer. Autistic kids sometimes need lots of repetition to get comfy with new things, much more so than nonautistic children. Bede, who loves water, had that reaction to our new aboveground pool, as follows:
Day One: Pool is set up. Bede jumps in the water, freaks out. Will not come near the pool again that day.
Day Two: Bede refuses to come outside when everyone else swims, cries when shown his swimsuit.
Day Three: Bede wants nothing to do with his swimsuit at first but wears it after much cajoling, and enjoys the kiddy pool.
Day Four: Bede puts his fingers in the big pool and dances away many times. He’s smiling.
Days Five-15: As Day Four. A few times I hold Bede in my arms and stand in the pool, but he becomes very agitated so I don’t press it.
Day 16: Bede puts his face in the pool several times.
Days 17 and 18: Bede doesn’t completely flip out when I stand holding him in the pool, and splashes a little with his hands.
Day 19: Bede gets in the pool! Gets out. In, out, in, out. For about an hour.
Day 20: Bede goes swimming!