By Darren Humphries New Zealand
Father to Elijah – Del + (2004 – 2007)
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Of all the place in the world that Elijah was the most comfortable – it was in water that he thrived. The only time we ever lost Elijah inside the house was water related. He managed to get into the bathroom, close the door behind himself, get into the shower and close the door behind himself and sit splashing in the remnants of water. In the end it was his giggling as he splashed that gave him away.
Even though fascination with water is one of those characteristics of those whose lives are impacted with Angelman Syndrome, water satisfied Elijah in at least two ways.

Firstly, it satisfied a sensory need in him to interact with water and was always pleasurable for him. Water always resulted in smiles and giggles – both very appropriate to the interaction. Who doesn’t smile when interacting with water at pool, beach or shower, bath etc. There is a basic connection for human beings and water.elijahswim1220406s

Secondly, water was liberating for Elijah, it was in or on water that he was able to achieve many things that were not possible for him outside of water. It provided an environment of balance for him. It was in water that he did not have the challenge of carrying his own weight. Much to the joy of his family it was in a pool with a flotation ring around him he took his first unaided steps. There are many who know the utter and profound joy that arises in us when this happens for the first time. Elijah would walk many steps unaided in the pool before he was even up to pulling himself up and furniture surf outside of water. And Elijah knew he could do it.

It was recommended that we take Elijah to hydrotherapy and so we did every week while his older sister Francesca went to piano lessons with her mum, I took Elijah swimming. He was always looking forward to and excited to go to the pool. This was a private pool where the staff worked with children and adults of varying abilities. This went on for sometime, and we would also go to the local pool where he would be mobile. Not unlike his sister both were born in water and so when it came to getting out it was always a challenge and met with signs of refusal and objection. These were responded to by promises of returning again soon which we did.