Is Water Fascination a True Trait of Angelman Syndrome?

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

by Sabrina L. Johnson |

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Juliana, pictured here as a toddler, smiles from a pink inflatable float with orange butterflies.

Pictured here at 1.5, Juliana was already in love with the water. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Ask an Angel’s parent if their kid loves water and you may not get the answer you expect. Do most children love water? Probably. Are all Angels fascinated with water? Perhaps.

My 11-year-old daughter, Juliana, is one of those Angels who love water play. Shortly after her diagnosis, I read so much about Angels and their connection to water. Now, I find fewer of these articles and little clinical data to support this theory.

Did I imagine that?

It really got me wondering if I have imagined Juliana’s water fascination or created it from some expectation of what I thought was true.

And then, you know what? I decided I didn’t care.

As a parent, it can become easy to rely on what the experts say when we can simply look to our kids for answers.

I don’t ever want to overlook my child’s interest because of what the data do or don’t say. Even with my 9-year-old daughter, Jessa, I try not to deal in generalities.

Splashing at any cost

I can’t say if all Angels love water. But I can attest that Juliana does.

So, we capitalize on this interest and use it as much as possible. She also likes music and loves to dance. Give Juliana music and water and she’s set up for a great day.

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I love this abstract of a study published in the Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability about Angels’ fascination with water that stresses the importance of incorporating water-related activities into an Angel’s day. What do you know? We’ve been doing this without any professional prompting.

Incorporating water into Juliana’s day may not always be possible, but I like it when we can do it. During a recent home improvement project, I used water to keep Juliana content while I worked.

We have a simple inflatable splash pool, and when we can’t make it to a swimming pool, Juliana gets to enjoy an afternoon of splashing. The splash pool has become a regular part of our summer days.

Juliana sits in her splash pool and holds an inflatable beach ball.

Juliana cools off in her backyard splash pool. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

Last year I panicked when our pool ripped and we couldn’t find a replacement online or in stores. During COVID-19, people bought out toilet paper and, to my horrid discovery, splash pools. Luckily, some very strong waterproof tape saved our backyard water adventures.

I think water will fix that

I take this water enjoyment for all that it provides. It gives Juliana something special that makes her happy. It gives me a quick way to soothe her.

Once when Juliana was sick and inconsolable, I got the bright idea to head to the bathtub. I ran a bath with bubbles and lavender oil for some extra soothing. I sat right next to her for hours as she played and splashed. There was a terrible mess of water everywhere, but I didn’t care. It made her feel better and she was calmer when she got out.

We’ve learned to incorporate water into our vacations too. Our preferred destination is the beach. When we’re at the beach, Jessa might swim or bury herself in the sand. Juliana is content to sit at the water’s edge and let the waves roll over her. It makes for such a great time.

As fascinated as Juliana is with playing in water, this doesn’t seem to translate to drinking it, or simply seeing it. A recent trip to the aquarium was challenging when I realized that looking at the water isn’t as exciting for her as being in the water. She wants to frolic in it and I can’t blame her.

Juliana and Jessa stand near a jet of water at a splash water. Juliana attempts a lick.

Drinking water from a cup just isn’t fun. Juliana attempts a lick of cool water while her sister, Jessa, looks on. (Photo by Sabrina L. Johnson)

There’s no real understanding of why some Angels love the water. However, we don’t always need an explanation of things to appreciate them. I’m happy for this obsession with or without the numbers that support its truth.


Note: Angelman Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angelman Syndrome News, or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Angelman syndrome.


Lulu C. avatar

Lulu C.

I agree! My son definitely grew out of the water fascination phase. He doesn't even want to go to the beach anymore, OR go into a pool. He still loves his baths, with magnesium. Thanks for the idea of lavender as well.
I have to admit that it was annoying as my son got older, to still see the same old list of Angelman "characteristics" that no longer applied!
Oh, and speaking of water...our neurologist agrees that dehydration is his number one seizure trigger. So, train your kids to drink water as well as play in it. =)

Sabrina L. Johnson avatar

Sabrina L. Johnson

Lulu--your comment is loaded with good tips! I'll have to look up the detail about magnesium--that's a new one for me. Thank you. I won't mind if Juliana doesn't want to waterplay anymore, but I hope this won't involve a distaste for my favorite place--the beach.


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