A few weeks ago, we again braved the highway to visit family. After the last few road trips, I admit I was a bit road shy, but we survived. While there, we spent a great deal of time in my sister’s pool to combat the fierce Texas heat. If there is anything my youngest daughter Rachel loves, it’s time in the water. I know some of that has to do with her many sensory issues related to autism, but swimming elicits the greatest of smiles on her cute face.

While my sister’s Labrador made laps around the pool, the kids pulled out a slide. Although she was afraid to try at first, Rachel kept watching her sister and cousins scream with laughter, and decided not to get left out. She approached the slide with little shuffle steps then ran away. The next time she touched the slide before she ran in the opposite direction. Within a few minutes, she sat on it and let me hand her to my sister in the water. After another half-hour, she was racing down the slide on her own, squealing with delight.

What made it even sweeter was her eye contact. I waited for Rachel in the water and used some of the techniques we’ve learned through Relationship Development Intervention, including the use of non-verbal cues. While Rachel sat on the top of the slide, I shook my head to get her to wait. When I was ready to catch her, I nodded. Grinning wide, she’d launch herself down the slide into my arms. So, not only did she have a great time, she also made some real progress with paying attention to me and watching me for cues.