Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Recreation/Leisure and Special Needs

Blog #53~Scuba Diving, Really?

Blog #53~Scuba Diving, Really?

About a month ago I clicked the inbox to purge emails.  I spotted one from Nick’s Adapted Physical Education (APE) teacher. Subject:  Scuba diving…What the? I laughed picturing Nick strapped down with all that equipment on his back and around his face.  I can’t even get him to leave a hat on for more than thirty seconds.  I started to hit delete but something made me pause.  I skimmed the information and hit reply.  “I am not sure this is something that Nick could tolerate.  What do you think?”

His APE teacher, Meredith Jordan wrote back.  “I think we should give it a try! He really enjoys swimming and has no problem putting his head under water. He has also done an awesome job responding to directions given to him during class. It can’t hurt to try!”

Good point, what did we have to lose?  After all, he does love to swim….See Blog #17~Life’s a Beach @ for more about Nick’s swimming experiences.

APE swimming 006 (4)

I read through the information, watched an ABC news piece and checked out the website (

Scuba diving is the only activity in the world that has zero gravity. And the enjoyment of that zero gravity gives people with various physical disabilities a special freedom.  Jim Elliot started the organization called Diveheart and has been working with divers with disabilities since 1997.  Elliot states that, “There’s a very, very short learning curve in scuba diving with for people with disabilities and without disabilities.”  “Diveheart is a nonprofit whose mission is to build confidence and independence in children, adults and veterans with disabilities through the activity of scuba diving,” said Elliot. “We serve all disabilities. Kids with autism and Down syndrome, the vets coming back with traumatic brain injuries, amputations it doesn’t matter. The only thing that keeps you from diving is pressure related illnesses, open wounds and people with seizures can’t go deep.”

diveheart logo

Fast forward to last week….  I opened up my laptop and found this in my inbox from Mrs. Jordan.  I was stunned!

Diveheart 2013 336 (2)

Here’s what Mrs. Jordan wrote about Nick’s scuba experience…..”It’s pretty cool; I was getting emotional watching him. He did such an awesome job and I was so impressed with how relaxed he was during the entire process. He followed their instructions without any hesitation. I would definitely recommend trying this again possibly with the same organization. The Diveheart instructors used verbal instructions for Nick. They did show him how to open his mouth wide to get the breathing piece all the way in. They thoroughly explained to him everything they were doing. They did not use visual pictures at all. I had a peer partner in the water with him assisting the instructor. The instructor did have to hold the breathing piece in his mouth for a while until Nick realized he had to hold it. Once he got the hang of it he did not want to come up! He was SO relaxed the entire time. They had pretend fish/water toys in the water and Nick LOVED diving for them! Needless to say, he did not want to get out of the water. He was in for about an hour!”

Look at my frogman go :)….

Diveheart 2013 335

Diving for toys…..

Diveheart 2013 330

Sometimes I have to remind myself not to set limits on Nick.  Mrs. Jordan was right, it can’t hurt to try. Thank you Mrs. Jordan and Diveheart! 🙂 I am very grateful for Nick to be given this opportunity.  I would never have thought to try something like this.  Lesson learned, sometimes you have to *Think outside the box.

thinking outside the box

That’s what is in my noggin this week.  🙂


*Thinking Outside the Box according to The Phrase Finder means to think creatively, unimpeded by orthodox or conventional constraints.  It originated in the USA in the late 1960s/early 1970s. It has become something of a cliché, especially in the business world, where ‘thinking outside the box’ has become so hackneyed as to be rather meaningless. The ‘box’, with its implication of rigidity and squareness, symbolizes constrained and unimaginative thinking.


Teresa is the Author of "A New Course: A Mother's Journey Navigating Down Syndrome and Autism" and the mother of two boys. Her youngest son, Nick is 29 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). Teresa's passion is helping others understand and navigate co-occurring Down syndrome and autism. She is a DS-ASD consultant, advocate, speaker, and author. Follow Nick's world on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism and on Twitter @tjunnerstall. For more information and media links, visit

5 thoughts on “Blog #53~Scuba Diving, Really?

  1. Tell Nick he is totally awesome! This is something I tried years ago and could not do so I am totally amazed he did it looking so effortlessly. Robert and both our sons got certified, but I flunked out of the course! I started having panic attacks just in the classroom so by the time I got in the water, I was toast. So proud of Nick and you – two brave souls. Love and clapping from Texas, Brenda.

    1. I am with you Brenda, thinking I would be claustrophobic too. I can hardly watch those movies where they are underwater struggling much less fathom scuba diving. Glad you enjoyed the piece and thank you for reading. 🙂

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