Rx scuba

Better than Ritalin: How a scuba diver course helped me to cut psychologists and group therapies out of my life

by Ariel Auslander:

All my life I had trouble with reading and writing. I would skip words and even whole sentences. As I would get to the end of the page, I would have forgotten what I was reading about. My writing as well had a lot of issues, even I couldn’t read what I was writing and in general I could never get myself to sit down and study like any of the other kids in my class.

When I was in third grade, the school principal called my parents in for a meeting. My parents, being the educated people that they were, came straight away and agreed to get me evaluated (back then there was no real awareness about learning disabilities).

There began a long saga of psychologists and evaluation institutes who eventually categorized me as suffering from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) dyslexia and dysgraphia.

The treatment was immediate and powerful! I would take a high dose of Ritalin each day; twice a week I would go to group therapy; and once a week I would go to a corrective teacher who was in charge of getting me to focus on my studies and get the fun back in it as well.

In the beginning it was not bad, I was in sort of a social circle, my grades got better, I would do my homework and I even managed to read a book. Unfortunately, that was it with the positive effects. The drug withdrawal in the afternoon caused me to outburst in rage to whomever would dare talk to me, I lost concentration more often and had to continuously raise the  Ritalin dose which caused a vicious cycle of doses and reactions to the end effect.

But to my luck, a summer vacation in Australia changed my life.   I was 14 years old when my mother had a sabbatical Down Under. That summer my father took me to visit her. Towards the end of the trip we travelled to Cairns. In order to be able to spend some time alone, my parents literally FORCED me to go through a scuba diver course.

And there it happened: all of a sudden I found myself coping with mathematical equations.  My understanding of physics improved, I learned about the physiology of the body. My technical abilities grew, I would navigate using a compass and solve all kinds of under and above water situations utilizing  my newly gained understanding of physics to keep myself neutrally buoyant under water.

Complex subjects didn’t scare me anymore.  I started to study geography and oceanography, started understanding the local and global current regiment, the effects of the tides on marine life and on us as divers.

My first scuba diver course got me on the right track.  I had higher improvisation abilities, was more creative, and this made me a calmer and more focused person – as I am today.

I took these newly found abilities home with me and used them in my life. I managed to cut Ritalin, psychologists, and group therapies out of my life. I even managed to finish high school with a reasonable grade.

I continued to my military service and used my diving abilities to my advantage in many fields. I even graduated and received my bachelor degree in emergency medical services.

Today I am the TDI/SDI representative in Israel and Jordan.  I own a group of dive clubs and teach diving at all levels. For my spare time I enjoy volunteering at the countries ambulances service as a paramedic and – of course – I dive and dive and dive…

The moral of the story is:

  1. Always listen to your parents!
  2. Diving is an interesting and fun way to get our children to learn new skills and to utilize these skills.
  3. Diving is an excellent way for the learning disabled to acquire the knowledge of all kinds of life subjects when they just can’t sit down and study. This is true for physics, physiology, mathematics, trigonometry, biology, geography and many more.

Don’t prevent your kids from getting their proper education!

Ariel Auslander

3 replies
  1. Joel Miller
    Joel Miller says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. The more people I meet when diving the more I discover just how many have some level of add (attention deficit disorder) a,ND find scubadiving to be the place where they can feel capmer and more focused. A whole new experience of their own self. And as you state it does build a lot of confidence in oneself.
    All the best.

    • Ariel
      Ariel says:

      Hey Joel. We actually need to thank my mother for getting me in to diving. Defenetly one of the better cures for any problem in life!

  2. Megan Jenkins Cass
    Megan Jenkins Cass says:

    This summer my two children attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Dropping them off at the beginning of the week brought back so many fond memories. My mom shared photographs of me at camp and written on the backs were the names of my team members. We did Aviation Challenge together! Your name, that you were from Israel, and struggled with dyslexia stuck with me during a time when people were not regularly carrying computers around everywhere for everything and yet you were using one for schooling, if my memory serves me correctly. So glad to have found you through this site. My son struggles with varying levels of add and dyslexia and your article has given me some great ideas. I hope we can catch up sometime.

    What a great story…thank you for sharing!



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