Story: Introduction Snorkeling to Non-Verbal Teenager with Autism

Gladden is a 16 years old non verbal kid with autism. His first water encounter is when he was a year old in Kampung Ujung, Labuan Bajo – Flores, Indonesia. He is a special need teenager with enthusiasm when he find pool or beach. The little Gladden lived and growth in Labuan Bajo, West Manggarai – Flores for 1 year and four months. One day his parent was walking in the beach in Kampung Ujung and stop, suddenly Gladden asked to stay and sit at the sandy beach and enjoy his time by playing the sand.

He has enthusiasm also on his father’s snorkeling gear. One day he was caught by camera playing the mask and snorkel during his father trip to Loh Mbongi, Labuan Bajo.

When he was 8 years old Gladden already familiar and enjoy his time in the pool of Batu Hijau in Sumbawa. Every week he and his brother Gilang went to the pool and swim together,  then they moved to Jakarta in 2010.

In Jakarta Gladden got less playing in the water. Gladden’s father is an experience scientific diver and also a dive instructor. As an expert trainer his father start to apply his experience to introduce Gladden on using snorkeling gears. 

First Time
However after  many times try to introduce using the snorkel gear, its not working to Gladden. He did refuse when his father gave him the example to use mask and snorkel  and  asked Gladden to simulate or practice again. Gladden prefer to use nothing when he swim, neither in swimming pool nor at the sea.

March 17, 2018 Gladden and his father come to swimming pool after a while and as usual his father introduce him to use the mask and snorkel. He start interested and when his father put the mask into Gladden’s face, he just obey and hold the father’s hand. Wow.. Surprised! Then his father guide Gladden to put the snorkel mouthpiece into his mouth and Gladden just followed the instruction. Yes, it was the first time Gladden wear and try to enjoy using mask and snorkel. The next step is how can Gladden breath using the snorkel to breath. As usual when Gladden excited he just jumped in and out his face in the surface. In this stage Gladden got the feeling and he like and excited. Gladden and his father and brother was going home with hope that the next session Gladden would get better.

Second Time
When the experience still fresh and Gladden was excited, they come back to the pool and Gladden’s father ask Gladden’s brother involve to encourage Gladden how to breath using the snorkel and get familiar on those gears. Gladden was still excited and tend to over excited along the session. Then Gladden’s father keep give Gladden example how use the mask and how breath with snorkel properly. Gladden watch the example given his father very good but when he practiced he lose his control especially how to close his mouth properly. 

Third Time
Teaching Gladden as a non-verbal teenager with autism need amount of patient and thousand of thought to get the result we want achieved. So his father identified that the one obstacle of this Gladden snorkeling exercise is over excited. When it happen Gladden was not able to focus to the proper procedure especially on breathing using the snorkel. At this stage his father try to make Gladden focus and ask Gladden to watch his father mouth directly and it was working, when Gladden was watching the bubble come out from the snorkel’s valve and keep to pay attention, automatically he was breathing using his snorkel properly. For a minute long Gladden can breathe normally using snorkel without any water comes into the snorkel. Well done Gladden, there is a hope you can explore the underwater world and enjoy it.

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