Two weekends ago we had an opportunity to participate in community event done by the Provincial Autism chapter at an Aquarium / Theme park. I usually have lots of troubled thoughts about ocean mammals in captivity specially since I grew up on the West Coast but I knew the kids would really enjoy seeing the whales, seals, dolphins and sea lions so mammals se took the plunge.
It was so much fun watching my son and daughter interact with the Beluga whales above water and through the looking-glass. My son REALLY loves water and he’s our little fish so he was really fascinated watching the whales frolic in the water. It was raining and stormy all day when we were there so I don’t have a lot of cute pictures outside with the kids and the whales. They were having so much fun watching the whales swim around and get fed that even when the rain pounded down they wanted to keep watching their newfound friends. We would finally convince them to run as fast they could down to the underwater viewing area and enjoy them this way.
The Beluga whales were very curious and when we would watch them from outside they would swim over and check the kids out (check for hidden buckets of fish) and then try and then playfully try and squirt them with water or splash them with their fins. “Princess” would giggle like crazy and enjoyed getting wet:)
This cute moment came when went down for the first time to observe the Belugas underwater. A very excited family was trying to tell us about how the baby Beluga that was 2 years old kept trying to interact with them and if they moved around it would follow them just as fast. When you have a child with Autism you are not surprised when your child acknowledges everything but the people near them and instead looks at the water, the glass, the water on the ledge…the Beluga whales. In the picture Johnny is actually too busy listening to the excited family, thinking its funny to get their undivided attention and trying to interact with them that he would not listen as they excitedly told him to turn around and look at his new friends. Instead I’m calling to his Daddy to quickly “take the shot” and praying that Johnny doesn’t turn. My wish came true and we got a cute picture.
The other unexpected thing that happened was that Johnny would get visibly sad at times watching the Beluga whales swim around in their big tank. Then he started pointing to the water and motioning at the whales. It seems that Johnny who loves to go swimming wanted to go in and swim with them. I cannot tell you how many times he asked me as we visited the two different Beluga whale tanks but if you are a parent of a child with Autism you already know that it was probably a lot. My little honey wanted to swim with the whales. A friend of mine who spent time living with her family in Thailand told me about “dolphin therapy” for special needs children and how the dolphins seem to instinctivly know how to be with the children.
I took him over to watch the Belugas being fed instead and let him get really close….close enough to get wet and close enough to see the baby whale learn to eat fish. “Next time do you want to feed them and pat them on the head and help give them a little head rub?”
Yes Mommy….next time.:)