CANADA: Autism – Overcoming Fear Of Water

CANADA: Autism – Overcoming Fear Of Water

Autism boy and his brother at the hotel pool

Autism boy and his brother at the hotel pool

When he was younger, my autism boy was terrified of water. Bath time was an ordeal that involved physically restraining this petrified, screaming child while we sponged him down as best we could. When we had to wash his hair, we would have to take him by surprise and wrap him up like a burrito before he would realize what was going on. These gruelling sessions usually ended with me in tears as I contemplated what I was putting my child through.

A trip to a splash pad one summer’s day a few years ago led to the discovery that although my autism boy hated being submerged in any body of water, he would consent to standing under a spray of water. From that day, our lives were a lot easier: bath time became shower time. My son was not exactly thrilled, but the screaming and terrified looks were replaced with crying and more manageable anxiety.

Although keeping my child clean is less traumatic than it once was, it is still challenging. My son only just manages to tolerate being in the shower for any length of time. Every minute that he is in there, he begs to be allowed out.

And so it was with a great deal of trepidation that I decided to enrol him in swimming lessons this summer. Fear of water or no fear of water, this kid has to learn how to swim. Individuals with autism are twice as likely as the general population to die prematurely from accidental causes. An extremely high percentage of those deaths are drownings.

And so I called the local aquatic centre and told them I wanted to put both of my boys into swimming lessons. I explained about the autism and the fear of water, and expressed my concern that my son would not even get into the pool.

The lady at the aquatic centre said something that I have told myself many times, something that I believe should be a constant mantra for autism parents everywhere.

“We won’t know what he’s capable of unless we give him the opportunity to try.”

These words told me everything I needed to know about the staff at the aquatic centre: that they were prepared to work with my special needs son in a positive and inclusive manner.

On the day of the introductory lesson, I deposited the boys with their instructor and made my way to the observation room, where I leaned forward in my chair and waited anxiously. I knew, at least, that my autism boy would be greatly reassured by the presence of his brother. As I watched, the boys were directed to sit on edge of the pool and dangle their legs in the water.

My younger son readily complied. The autism boy watched him for a few moments, and then followed suit. I held my breath, waiting for a disaster.

But instead of screaming and panicking, my son gingerly lowered himself into the water, to where his instructor was waiting.

I’m sure there was an audible thunk as my jaw hit the floor.

With his hands resting lightly on the instructor’s shoulders, my boy walked from one side of the pool to the other, and then back again. He waited patiently as the instructor went through the same paces with my younger son, and then he did it all over again.

Half an hour later, I met my kids at the entrance to the pool. Both of them were full of smiles, and my younger son could barely contain his excitement as he described how well his brother had done.

Several weeks have passed since then: during this time, we have had a family vacation that included many hours at hotel pools, and there have been two more swimming lessons. Almost overnight, my autism boy has become a water baby. He’s not exactly Michael Phelps, but he can float with support and put his face into the water.

This experience has been a valuable reminder for me to never assume that my kids will not be capable of something.

Have your kids ever surprised you with an accomplishment that you weren’t expecting? Have they ever come to love something they once feared?

This is an original post to World Moms Network by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.

Kirsten Doyle (Canada)

Kirsten Doyle was born in South Africa. After completing university, she drifted for a while and finally washed up in Canada in 2000. She is Mom to two boys who have reached the stage of eating everything in sight (but still remaining skinny). Kirsten was a computer programmer for a while before migrating into I.T. project management. Eventually she tossed in the corporate life entirely in order to be a self-employed writer and editor. She is now living her best life writing about mental health and addictions, and posting videos to two YouTube channels. When Kirsten is not wrestling with her kids or writing up a storm, she can be seen on Toronto's streets putting many miles onto her running shoes. Every year, she runs a half-marathon to benefit children with autism, inspired by her older son who lives life on the autism spectrum. Final piece of information: Kirsten is lucky enough to be married to the funniest guy in the world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to check out her YouTube channels at My Gen X Life and Word Salad With Coffee!

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SPECIAL REPORT: Our Family’s Plea after the #EcuadorEarthquake

SPECIAL REPORT: Our Family’s Plea after the #EcuadorEarthquake

In the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Ecuador, the people of my husband’s home country are on our minds and in our hearts, and we are very much in touch. Today, I am giving them a voice on World Moms Blog…

Beautiful Ecuador

Beautiful Ecuador. A photo from the hacienda belonging to my husband’s family in Cuenca.

Ecuador is the home of the Galapagos Islands, aromatic coffee, delicious chocolate, and my husband. He was born and raised in Cuenca, a charming colonial city in the mountains. Although we reside in the United States with our two children, my husband always makes it a point that we always stay connected to the place he still refers to as home. We got engaged on his hacienda (family’s land), honeymooned in the Galapagos Islands, and continue to vacation in Ecuador every year. My children love visiting with their abuela and primos and enjoy all the natural splendors that their father’s home country has to offer. Ecuador is always very much in our minds and in our hearts.

So, on April 16th when we heard the news that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country, we were a little rattled ourselves.

We learned that my husband’s family was safe, and although they were over 200 miles away from the epicenter they felt the tremors of the quake. They explained that the ground thunderously shook for over a minute, rattling chandeliers and unhinging doors. It was like nothing they had ever experienced before.

What remains or a gift shop in Manta, Ecuador after a series of recent earthquakes in April 2016. Manta is Ecuador's largest seaport on the Pacific ocean.

What remains of a gift shop in Manta, Ecuador after a series of recent earthquakes recently in April 2016. Manta is Ecuador’s largest seaport on the Pacific ocean.

The epicenter was located in the coastal region of Ecuador, which includes some port cities, picturesque coastal towns and small fishing communities. Buildings crumbled to the ground, over 600 people were killed and thousands were displaced from their homes. Most of the area impacted is very poor with limited infrastructure, most of which was destroyed. Initial efforts focused on emergency response and rescue. Organizations like the Ecuadorian Red Cross (Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana) along with other civil and governmental organizations were mobilized quickly.

Yellow tape marked "Peligro" warns people of danger after the roof and balcony collapse of a building in Manta, Ecuador after the earthquakes in April 2016.

Yellow tape marked “Peligro” warns people of danger after the roof and balcony collapse of a building in Manta, Ecuador after the earthquakes in April 2016.

Based on my experience, this is a small and proud country. People boast about everything Ecuadorian including their fruit, wildlife, history and rich traditions. During this difficult time, they have pulled together to help their fellow compatriotas.

My husband’s family helped stock a mobile hospital that headed to the area immediately after the quake to provide emergency health care. Others provided food, clothing and basic essentials. In the days following the earthquake it became clear that the needs of the people were growing and that the rebuilding process was going to be slow. Access to clean water has become critical. Imagine not having safe water to drink or cook?

Once again, local families and companies in the surrounding areas joined together to provide water treatment equipment to service a small portion of those affected. They are making steps forward, but it’s still a long road ahead. There are many organizations that are still offering assistance in the area, according to our family there. One of them is Oxfam, which is working with the Ecuador government to provide safe water and storage to the area. The organization is also focusing on sanitation measures to prevent water borne diseases, especially among children and senior citizens. My family in Ecuador has seen Oxfam’s work on the ground and asked us to donate. We, in turn, are helping to spread the word.

A tin collapsed and bent tin roof and tilted building supports lean atop brick rubble in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Manta, Ecuador in April 2016.

A collapsed and bent tin roof and damaged building supports lean atop brick rubble in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Manta, Ecuador last month, April 2016.

The phrase si se puede is a phrase that enthusiastic Ecuadorian sports fans chant to support their teams.  It means “yes, we can.”  This phrase has become the motto of the relief efforts.

From the hearts of my family and the people of Ecuador who are in dire need of clean water in the aftermath of the earthquake, please consider donating to Oxfam to help the people of Ecuador see that the country’s chants of “si se puede” will overcome this natural disaster.

Angela and her husband on honeymoon in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador in

Angela and her husband on honeymoon in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador after they first married in her husband’s home country 10 years ago.

This is an original guest post from a World Moms Blog reader, Angela Vega, who is mom in the USA of two sensitive and curious children who keep her very busy.  Before deciding to stay home with her children, Angela worked in the field of marketing and advertising. She earned an undergraduate degree from Villanova University and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, where she met her husband.

Photo credits of the earthquake damage and hacienda to Pedro Vega on the ground in Ecuador.

Photo credit to the author for the honeymoon photo.


World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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USA: Waiting for Water After Hurricane Joaquin

USA: Waiting for Water After Hurricane Joaquin

Last week, South Carolina experienced the worst flooding is has seen in 1,000 years.  World Mom, Sophia, shares her search for clean water after the storm last week…

Today the National Guard had two posts at which troopers were giving out clean water bottles by the case. As I prepared to go get some of this water, I thought of the safest, most effective and expeditious way of getting through the line of people waiting.

Would there be a truck at which troopers would be handing out the cases? Would there just be a group of us standing there with no adhered-to order, or would there be a line? How could I carry more than one case back to my car? I surely couldn’t get to the front of the line (or group) more than once… Maybe I should take the stroller, and put as many cases of water on it as I could take. (more…)


I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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SPECIAL REPORT: #WorldMoms at #WorldBank This Week for #SMCSO15

SPECIAL REPORT: #WorldMoms at #WorldBank This Week for #SMCSO15

#WorldMoms at #WorldBank this week for #SMCSO15

NEW FINAL CollageFantastic news! Writers from World Moms Blog will be traveling to the World Bank Spring Meetings (#SM2015) in Washington D.C. this week to help spread the word about the ongoing dialog between citizens from Civil Society Organizations (CSO). World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, and contributor, Cynthia Changyit Levin, are thrilled to be headed back to the World Bank CSO meetings to represent moms around the globe concerned about the futures of ALL children no matter where they were born.

Civil Society meetings are bi-annual events hosted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  Non-government organizations like UNICEFthe ONE CampaignA World at School, and RESULTS send representatives to speak on panels to talk about development policies. Citizens from all over the world can join in and voice their opinions about the best ways to fight extreme poverty and speak out about how World Bank programs affect the lives of people in their countries for better or worse.

We’re honored to be lending our social media skills in a partnership that started at the 2014 RESULTS Conference when we met World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim and continued as we attended and blogged about the 2014 Fall CSO meetings. This spring, we’re returning to help the World Bank to engage in conversation with our audience of concerned moms on topics of importance to us as world citizens: Ebola, Education, Nutrition, and more. We’ll be live-tweeting flagship events and even hosting a panel discussion about social media and citizen activism to move the world toward education for all.

YOU can help take the meetings and the conversation about ending poverty far beyond DC! Please join the conversation by:

  • Following the Twitter hashtag #SMCSO15 and the Twitter accounts of @WorldMomsBlog@JenniferBurden, and @ccylevin so you can join in the conversation and re-tweet posts that you like using the #WorldMoms hashtag.
  • Joining live-streamed webcast events (listed below) and leaving your questions/comments on the webcast page for the moderators! Each event has a hashtag so you can engage with the panel and audience through Twitter.
  • Leaving a question for the World Bank in the comment section of this blog. We’ll try to ask it in the panel discussions and town hall meetings we attend or ask our contacts at the World Bank about it to get a response to you.

Here is the link to the full schedule of live-streamed webcast events. The list below calls out some of our favorites that we are most excited to attend. Pick one or more that interest you and join us virtually. You may even see us in the audience!

Creating Jobs and Improving Services: A New Social Contract in the Arab World

#breakthecycle and #menaeconomy

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. ET
Join us for a live discussion where panelists will address the need for a new social contract to meet the demands of the current generation of citizens in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Power of Faith to Help End Extreme Poverty


Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m ET.
Location: World Bank Group Headquarters, Preston Auditorium & Online

Can people of faith help build a movement to end extreme poverty? Can they seize this opportunity at a time of conflict in some regions — some of it driven by groups claiming religious justification?

Latin America: In Search of Lost Growth


Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET

How can Latin American governments stimulate growth while preserving social achievements? What growth levels will countries of the region achieve in 2015?

2015 Spring Meetings Press Briefing: World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim


Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 8:45 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ET

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will address the press during the World Bank’s 2015 Spring Meetings.

The Power of Nutrition


Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. ET

Join us for a panel discussion on the importance of investing in nutrition; the challenges countries are facing; and concrete steps towards scaling up high-impact programming for child nutrition.

Future of Food: A Conversation with Jim Yong Kim & David Chang


Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET

Hear from a development banker, a renowned chef, an agricultural expert, a woman farmer, a culinary professional and others about the future of food, and how we can work together to feed the world.

Trust, Voice, and Incentives: Learning from Local Successes in Service Delivery in the Middle East and North Africa


Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET

Join regional policy makers, practitioners and civil society representatives for a discussion on what it will take to instill adequate accountability and motivation among public servants and service providers toward meeting citizens’ needs.

Water Security for All in a World of Scarcity


Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET

Water security is emerging as the number one global risk in terms of development impact. An expert panel will share their experiences and solutions for addressing water scarcity challenges with a view of the social, economic, and political implications.

Ebola: The Road to Recovery


Date: Friday, April 17, 2015
Time: 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. ET

WBG President Jim Yong Kim chairs this high-level roundtable at which the heads of state of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will present their Ebola recovery plans to finance and development ministers and international partners.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Water On Our Doorstep This Earth Day

Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Water On Our Doorstep This Earth Day

Photo of Celia's saplings by Purnima Ramakrishnan

Photo of Celia’s saplings by Purnima Ramakrishnan

“Universal access to water is a right to all and now it is just on our doorsteps” said farmer Celia.  I was traveling as a International Reporting Project Fellow, and we had just arrived in the semi-arid city of Cumaru, in the North-Eastern state of Pernambuco.

We had lunch at Joelma’s place who is a farmer in Cumaru. She made delicious rice, palma salad with lots of vegetables in it (a variety of sustainable cacti, native to the lands and which is used to feed both livestock and people). And then we went to her sister-in-law, Celia’s farm. Celia is also a farmer.

When Celia was six years old, she used to go downhill and carry water back up to her home in pots and buckets, and she recalls them being very heavy.  When she cajoled her father, he sometimes let her use a donkey to bring it back home. This, the six-year-olds woke up at 3 AM every day to do. I have an 8-year-old at home, and I cannot imagine giving him such a life.

Today though, she is grateful that she can give her own two-year-old, a better life, thanks to the Cisterns project.

The average rainfall in these semi-arid lands varies from 200 to 800 mm, which is very irregular for habitation. Moreover, the amount of evaporation in these lands is three times higher than the rainfall. Hence it becomes even more important to capture the rainwater for families during the dry season. This is the concept of the Cisterns project.

The ASA (Articulation Brazilian Semi-Arid) is a network of social organisations operating in the Northeast of Brazil which aims to “empower civil society to build participatory processes for sustainable development and cope with the semi-arid land based on cultural values, and social justice.”

ASA was born from accumulated experience of organisations and social movements that have worked for years in the perspective of living with the Semi-arid climate. In 1999,  the ASA presented a joint project for the Semi-arid to the society and the government, and thus the Articulation became a network.

In 2003, ASA launched P1MC (Program One Million Rural Cisterns), which aims to build 1 million water reservoirs to meet the needs of 5 million families. Currently there are 500 thousand reservoirs and the program has graduated into a public policy adopted by the Federal Budget.

These water reservoirs or cisterns are of two types. Every family has cisterns with a capacity of 16,000 litres of water for domestic use and another of 52,000 litres of water for farming and livestock use. The technology employed here is called social-technology and basically collects water from the rooftops and harvests the rainwater. The families are given a course in water management and are also requested to take a course in farming in semi-arid.

Photo of a 16000 litre cistern by Purnima Ramakrishnan

Photo of a 16000 litre cistern by Purnima Ramakrishnan

Celia says, she is now employed and this has brought about female empowerment along with water, and agriculture, all because of the cistern on her doorstep.

She cultivates small saplings and sells it to the other farmers. She grows corn, papaya, oranges, tangerine, beans, cashew, Umbu, tamarind, and many other things. She also sells the produce (though now too much) in the market and to other farmers. Her husband works in construction department in the town, whereas she lives in the village doing her farming with her two-year-old. She hopes to give a better life to her son.

She has been taught in her course to cultivate three types of plants, she says. The first is the native plants which thrives well on the soil of the area with not much dependency, and is more suited to the semi-arid climate like the Umbu. Then the plants which are not suited to the area, like corn, for which abundant water is available from the cisterns. And the third type is the plants for the livestock like Palma. This ensures that the plants give back to nature what they take from it. The soil gets enriched and also nurtures the plants. It is a two-way process.


Carlos-explaining-about-the-cisterns-and-farmer-Celia-looking-on Photo by Purnima Ramakrishnan

This seed of change stimulated by social organisations that operate in the region have prompted the development of coexistence of half-barren lands with practical goals absorbed by the government to promote sustainable living.

We asked Carlos, the program coordinator of ASA in the region, “Is this a solution for food security?” He said it is much more than that. It is a solution for independence, female empowerment because of employment in one’s own farm, it is a way to make the semi-arid a much greener place to live, it is a solution to democratize water, and make it a universal right, not a consumer product.

Celia's son and nephew, Photo by Purnima Ramakrishnan

Celia’s son and nephew, Photo by Purnima Ramakrishnan

I remember that water was more expensive than beer in my hotel. And I now knew why! One should not pay to have to drink water, he said.

This concept can be embraced in many developing semi-arid regions.

On this Earth Day, let us pledge to make our cities greener and conserve water. Let us spread such buds of change through social media, and other channels.

How do you plan to honor this Earth Day?

This is a post written by Purnima Ramakrishnan on her #BrazilMDGs trip to Brazil as a fellow of Journalism with the International Reporting Project.


Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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