Non-profit organization provides scuba diving opportunities for people with disabilities

Posted at 11:25 PM, Aug 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-06 23:25:10-04

Jim Elliott is the founder of Diveheart, a non-profit dedicated to helping kids and adults build confidence and independence through scuba diving. He`s helping Nick, who has autism, do the same.

In the water, Nick is more relaxed, even playful. It`s something Jim notices in so many of his students. Some challenged with disabilities like cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome, others with traumatic brain injuries.

“As you go down, you have to look really hard at people to see if they have a disability because when you put all that gear on, we all kind of look the same,” says Jim Elliott.

In the water, Nick practices the basics, but as he fills his mind with new skills, a sense of calm washes away the anxiety.

A scientific study dove deeper into the benefits of scuba. Researchers at Midwestern University surveyed 10 kids and adults with autism spectrum disorders. They found a common theme among them – finding sensory freedom in the water. Underwater, visual and auditory distractions are minimized. The effect is calming – and for someone with autism, it`s a welcome feeling.

But Nick and his dad don`t need hard data to be convinced. Instead, they`re focusing on future adventures.

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