He loves watching fish in aquariums so it has got me thinking about the benefits of aquariums for autistic children from my point of view in my experience with my own son's sensory needs.
|Image source: boy and fish tank Shutterstock|
Fish are a fairly easy pet and an autistic child can learn about caring and looking after them whilst it also serving as a great therapy session. Cleaning the fish tank out and feeding them are routine activities that autistic children thrive on and provide a stimulating daily activity. For my son, the activity of cleaning the tank could be portrayed visually on a timeline so he could learn to do this task independently, boosting his self confidence.
Sensory wise an aquarium is a visual delight with bright colours, bubbles, swaying aquatic plants, lighting and the darting around or gentle swimming of the fish. The gentle bubbling noise of the tank can be soothing if there are no strong aversions to the sound and at times of over stimulation can help to diffuse a meltdown by having the aquarium as part of a calm area in the home.
Fish are a super learning tool, a hobby that can teach a child so much. From the animal husbandry skills to choosing new aquarium accessories with a parent, working together learning social skills, taking turns to feed the fish, sharing activities with friends or other family members. My son has also learnt and used his vocabulary from looking at the fish tanks in our local pet store - colours, big fish/little fish, one fish, two fish....
As part of my son's home education, we could bring the fish into our curriculum and a quick search on Pinterest provides plenty of ideas - fishy art, matching games, story telling and colour sorting.
|Clockwise: Fish Sorting - Princess and the Tot //Rainbow Fish Story Literacy Activity - Teachers Pay Teachers // Bottle Cap Fish Art - I Heart Crafty Things // Fish Colour Matching Game|