LOVES PARK (WREX) — At first glance, Jaxon Bosselman looks like your everyday 7-year-old boy, but his journey has been far from ordinary.
"When we first got that diagnosis, we were just heartbroken, didn't know what we were going to do, forty hours of services on top of daily care, how are we going to do this?"Marcela Castillo, Jaxon's mom
Jaxon was diagnosed with mild to severe autism when he was two years old, and started going to therapy.
"He didn't really play very well, he didn't talk," said Jaxon's former therapist, Lisa Kubelka. "He didn't have any communication skills, he was frustrated by that. It was really hard for him to let people know what he wanted and his mom was struggling with how to help him."
Marcela has a part-time job at Loves Park Scuba, where longtime friend Dan Johnson is the owner and a scuba instructor. Marcela decided to have Jaxon give it a shot.
"He was very disruptive when he'd come in. Ruby our dog, she'd run the other way," said Johnson. "He would make a lot of noises and so forth and in about fifteen minutes he'd wear his welcome out anywhere."
After Jaxon warmed up to the water, and got used to scuba diving, he quickly found a love for it. It's not just fun for Jaxon. Soon after scuba diving, Marcela noticed something else. His communication skills drastically improved.
"He's starting to talk, he was saying sentences, two words, three words," said Marcela. "His therapist was like 'yeah we're doing three word sentences, that's great!' Now, once he starts talking and he's comfortable he is non-stop chatter, sometimes you have to tell him 'Jaxon can you quiet down a little bit?'"
Jaxon has been scuba diving since he was three years old, and to this day, Jaxon gets to Loves Park Scuba two to three times a week, and it's always highlighted on the calendar.
"I love it when I dive. It's pretty fun, I love Scuba diving with my mom and all people."Jaxon Bosselman
The question is, why does scuba diving help improve Jaxon's communication skills? And could other water activities help other kids with disabilities?
"There has been a lot of research done on kids that have disabilities and swimming particularly like I said, swimming with dolphins and stuff like that and I have had kids on my caseload who have gone and done that," said Kubelka. "It assists them with their mobility, I think that's there's some ability to be a little bit more free and open to communication and sort of open to the activity."
Jaxon made so much progress through therapy and scuba diving that his kindergarten teacher didn't even know he had autism.
"She read it in a file, when he was getting ready to graduate she said she would've never known he had autism except when she saw it written in a file. It's remarkable."Dan Johnson, owner and instructor - Loves Park Scuba
From mom, to Lisa, to Dan, and of course Jaxon's incredible work ethic, this team was able to improve Jaxon's way of life, and help him realize that the sky, or maybe the bottom of the ocean is the limit.