Cool, Cool Water

The dog days of summer can be difficult. The heat can sap energy and summer heat can irritate our friends with autism who are averse to high temperatures. Some youngsters with autism struggle in the unscheduled days of summer break that are in marked contrast to the predictable school days filled to the brim with activity. Something as simple as a bit of water can cool down these dog days and insert a bit of interest into each day.

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These are some proven, field-tested water activities that have cooled down the summer doldrums of folks with autism of all ages over the years. Of course, each individual will have his or her own personal preferences and aversions, but nearly everyone can find several fun ideas from this list to help cool down and spice up those summer days.
1. PLAYING IN THE SPRINKLER. Run through the sprinkler or put it under a trampoline or a swing. Many folks with autism enjoy the predictable on and off, back and forth rhythm of a rotating sprinkler beside their reclining plastic lawn chair.
2. HOSE SPRAYER. Turn the hose spray on soft mist to water plants or green up the lawn. Or turn it on full force for a car wash or to just shoot high into the air.
3. INDOOR H2O. Paint with watercolors or finger paints. Fill an ice cube tray half full of water, then drop in a strawberry, grape, cherry, raspberry, or blueberry before freezing. Take a pool floaty into the bathtub for an instant indoor pool.
4. FISHING. Relax in a chair on a pier or on the shore of a river with a fishing pole, minnow, and bright cork. Catching fish is just a small part of enjoying a fishing adventure. If someone actually catches a fish, don’t forget to release the fish promptly so it lives to grow even bigger. A dip net is also fun for exploring all the little living creatures in a body of water.
5. SKIPPING ROCKS. Even if you aren’t skilled at skipping rocks, it is still fun to throw pebbles or sticks into streams, ponds, or lakes. The idea is to enjoy being around water and taking your mind off the heat and summer doldrums. Enjoy!

We welcome your input and your ideas about relaxing water activities and other summer fun. Just click on the comments button or send an e-mail to

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. Send email to And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism.

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