You’ve spent what seems like a lifetime plotting your underwater adventures. Now, you have a family in tow, and you can’t wait to share your knowledge.
You want to share the world of beauty under the surface with your nearest and dearest. But at what age can you change your couples’ scuba diving retreats to a full-fledged family adventure? How young is too young to start diving?
The answer is different for every family. But a recent international story has many families re-think their self-imposed limits on what age is the right age to start scuba diving.
This recent wrinkle in the age-appropriate scuba diving debate started with a San Diego family. A 12-year-old boy, while on a recent trip to Fiji, broke world records. He earned a certification as a Junior Master Scuba Diver and become the youngest scuba diver ever to do so.
The boy earned the honor after completing required dives at the Korolevu dive site, which is a famed part of the Rainbow Reef on the island of Taveuni in Fiji. And while there are plenty of junior divers who become accredited, and have reached high levels of acclamations, the 12-year-old nonetheless raised eyebrows and overtook headlines simply due to his age.
What many people don’t realize is this specific boy had been scuba diving for years, as a solid and comforting outlet for his developmental disorders. Suffering from ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, an oppositional defiance disorder, a pervasive developmental disorder and a processing disorder, scuba diving was one of the few activities where the new master diver felt at peace.
This is why he started diving at the age of 8, and which is why after every successive dive trip he would beg his parents to go out again. His parents naturally responded with “yes,” and even enlisted a “Dive Nanny” to help him excel and continue his devotion to the sport.
So while this San Diego boy may be unique, ultimately, the reasons for him diving are not. Many institutes have recognized the positive effects of scuba diving on individuals suffering from social impediments such as ADD and autism. Many physicians have found relief for their patients under the water where the outside distractions are few.
Also, scuba diving training can serve as a valuable lesson for tweens on paying attention, avoiding distractions, and enjoying their surroundings with a healthy dose of caution.
So while no family should hurry up and try to make their child a master scuba diver by 12, the research for children with social disabilities shows that a little time under the water can be extremely beneficial. And if your kid wants to follow in their parents’ footsteps by taking a dive course and eventually touring some of the most beautiful places in the world, there’s no reason to say no.
Just know your child’s abilities and age-appropriate limitations and move forward slowly. News stories and inspirational tales of achievement have shown us that nothing is impossible.
But nevertheless, every diver should move at their pace to make the most out of their scuba experience. With this mantra in mind, divers of all levels will fall in love with scuba diving, at the appropriate age and timeframe for them.