Aquariums are known for their calming effects on the mind and body. This is due to their vibrant colors, calming sounds, and the enrapturing nature of the tank itself. However, aquariums aren’t just great for neurotypical children; they’re great for neurodivergent children as well, particularly children with Autism.
If your child loves fish and aquariums, then you may already be aware of the benefits owning one can have. But for those unaware, this article will review how an aquarium can benefit your child with Autism.
Because aquariums are generally stagnant and provide consistent white noise, it can be a great sensory break for an overstimulated child on the verge of a meltdown. Typically, meltdowns occur due to overstimulation, often because of a general sense of frustration, overwhelming stimuli like textures or sounds, or a lack of ability to articulate their emotions.
Aquariums, once set up and functioning, are great for children to just stare at and decompress. They get lost in the beauty. There’s no fiddling that they must do and no sudden loud noises. So, turn the lights down and let your child tune out for a while until they are ready to go on with their day.
An Amazing Learning Tool
Aquariums are a great way to teach any child, neurotypical or neurodivergent, responsibility and awareness of another entity’s needs and feelings. While your child may need a little extra handholding and observation, helping them feed, name, clean, decorate, and care for an aquarium teaches them mindfulness.
You can ask your child, when the fish are ready for feeding or if the tank needs maintenance, if they think the fish are hungry and what the fish need to be happy. This is a great way to jumpstart their understanding of their own emotions and the emotions of others. It also promotes forethought, impulse delay, and emotional intelligence.
Helps Form Relationships
In the same vein as the previous section, your child may even be able to form a deep emotional bond with these animals. Sometimes, owning a dog or a cat is not an option. If your child needs an at-home companion, fish are a calm and easy way to fill that need. Also, encouraging your child to talk to the fish is a great way to improve their speaking skills with other children. Think of an aquarium as a low-risk playing field for your child to practice specific skills and make mistakes.
Keeps Children on Schedule
Some children with Autism either don’t like abiding by a strict schedule or need things to be done in a strict and particular order. Either way, caring for an aquarium is a great way to teach your child how to follow time.
For children that don’t like schedules, aquarium care is a great first-step teaching tool because most aquariums only need to be cared for every few weeks, and the daily feeding schedule for the fish is quick and easy. You won’t be pushing or overwhelming your child with time maintenance and schedule too quickly.
Owning an aquarium can benefit your child with Autism in many ways, and there are plenty of kid-friendly fish tanks that will be easy on you and your little one.