How to teach autistic children to swim

How to teach autistic children to swim

The Super Swimmers Foundation is dedicated to teaching all children with autism and special needs to learn to swim both safely and successfully in the water. Through swimming the mind and body are both stimulated therefore improving a child’s speech, muscular development, and confidence in a fun, loving environment. Julie Gross along with her dedicated team of professional swim instructors is making the dream of having a super center that promotes both education and physical fitness for the community a reality. They see the benefits of swimming on a daily basis and they are proud to provide swimming lessons, guidance and support to families with autistic and special needs children.

Julie Gross and the Swim With Mr. Blue team are CPR/First Aid certified, and Lifeguard certified. They provide the motivation and encouragement needed to help swimmers learn to swim safely and successfully in a safe gentle environment. Through a variety of colorful characters providing visuals, repetitive swim safety songs, and association tools Miss Julie’s lessons are beneficial for those children requiring specific learning needs. She has a wonderfully entertaining DVD filled with fun songs and a motivational story of a fish named Mr. Blue that capture a child’s imagination and make learning to swim fun.

Julie and her team are proud to be involved in the support and education of autism. They understand that it is the efforts of a community working together that creates a healthy environment for children to learn and grow. Through the Super Swimmer’s Foundation Julie and her team will work with their community to provide further resources for parents, children and families of autistic and special needs children. For more information on The Super Swimmer’s Foundation, please call (561) 755-7254.

Danger from water doesn’t only mean water-borne diseases but also the possibility of drowning. The condition itself adds to the increase in the risk of such extreme possibilities.

How to teach autistic children to swim

Drowning is a leading cause of fatality for children with ASD, who have a habit of wandering off and are naturally drawn to water. It’s not necessarily the case that the child will know how to swim.

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Ensuring your child can swim

Children with autism can absolutely learn to swim unless they have some form of sensory-processing dysfunction or under developed gross motor skills.

For some of them, specialized swim lessons may come useful. They are well-listed by the National Autism Association and is complete with appropriate contacts and an email addresses.

Autistic or not, water safety lessons are important for every child. But ASD kids have the odds against water related injuries/fatalities stacked higher, which makes it even more necessary for them to learn swimming and to stay safe around water.

Avoiding the Common Mistakes

Introduce a child to the water before his/her lessons begin. A child’s specific needs must be addressed first, so measures like:

  • videos of children taking swimming lessons,
  • a tour in and around the swimming facility,
  • specific transitional/representational toys and other objects to be used in the pool

– all are effective measures.

In case your child absolutely hates being in the water due to panic, teach the child the various safety skills to use in case of an emergency (such as falling into a pool). It might prove more challenging than it sounds and an extended period of time might be required to desensitize the child to the experience.

Apart from taking other precautions such as ensuring that a swimsuit/vest or some other flotation device is present whenever a child is around water, you may also utilize occupational therapy and sensory-based techniques. For monitoring, you can you a wearable water-alert alarm but remember, human attentiveness scores over every other form of safety devices.

Ensuring the Your Child Understand what is being Taught

Note: This applies even more to non-verbal children, who can be demonstrated what they have learned.

Social stories with pictures allow them to answer water-related scenarios. Since children with autism typically respond to rules and routines, a clear explanation in a step-by-step method works really well. Additionally, to avoid problems, parents can learn about their current context and environment.

Starting with a Foundation

While its best to always stay near your child (ideally, within an arm’s reach) when around water, it may not always be possible. Whether its a swimming pool or a bath tub, an accident is just a split-second away! So, a here are a few tips to help you dodge past the anxiety.

Big Red Safety Toolkit:

Produced by the National Autism Association, it is an excellent, comprehensive, safety guide for parents with ASD children. It also teaches you how to spot the right swimming program for your child. Download it by clicking here.

Understanding the child’s fascination with water

The reflections and movements in water attract ASD children. Therefore, understanding this simple fact about your child can help you take steps towards educating them properly.

Teach them about the dangers that usually remain associated with water, including polluted water, depth, water temperature, current, slippery surfaces and quicksand. It’s important since children with autism may not always recognize dangers that are easily spotted by typically developing children.

TIP: Please be informed and up to date. You must not get the child panicked with your imagination enhancing further the truth.

Prevent Wandering

Wandering towards a body of water might spell great danger, so place alarms (or chimes) on doors; keep access points (around pools) locked and hang Stop signs on the gates and doors. Install fence/gate around your home’s yard with an alarm and involve your neighbours to always keep their pool fence secured.

Keeping Sensory Issues in Check

Sensory issues related to water is a bigger problem to deal with. It will require a swim lesson program specially designed to address the associated dysfunctions. Children should be eased into it. Starting with a tour of the pool prior to getting into the water is a good idea.

Sights, smells, and sounds matter a lot, so getting habituated helps. An instructor should blow his/her whistle prior to the first lesson. It helps the child get used to the loudness as well as its significance.

Making use of Tools & Props

Accessories make it easier for children to learn the tactics of swimming. For example, children with physical disabilities shall be greatly benefitted by Accessible Pools, especially when they can’t enter a pool via the main access points. For more, please visit the website of the Department of Justice to find out the information on the ADA requirements for accessible pools. Additionally, here are a few props that can help:

  • Kick boards: The kick-boards help keep a new swimmer afloat while they practice leg kicks. For a better grip, boards with handles are recommended.
  • Swim gear: These are usually life vests and other flotation devices; the best ones are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and ensure better comfort and fit.
  • Goggles: If a child is bothered by water getting in their eyes, goggles can come real handy. However, goggles must fit right.
  • Water noodles: These noodles are colourful, which makes them attractive for kids and help them stay afloat.
  • Ear protection: If a child’s ears are sensitive, it’s important to protect them from water. Ear plugs are the best options for the purpose.

Introduction to Safe Swimming for Children with Autism

Just like any new skill or concept, consistent repetition is important if you are teaching children about water safety. These additional teaching tips and lessons on activities are a good start.

How to teach autistic children to swim

Water safety visual stickers for kids with Autism

Swimming is an important life skill for all, and children and adults with special needs have unique water safety challenges.

Swimming Lessons for Children with Special Needs

Raising a child with special needs presents unique challenges, but helping them learn how to swim doesn’t have to be one of them. At SafeSplash, we believe swimming is a life skill®, and that all children are safer and happier when they learn the basics of water safety.

That’s why we offer private swimming lessons for kiddos with unique needs (including special swim lessons for children with autism, sensory struggles, ADHD, physical disabilities, and other challenges.) Swimming lessons keep kids of all ages safer. They can also be therapeutic and, for many special needs children, calming. Water can soothe sensory overload and give swimmers a feeling of weightlessness and relief from physical discomfort. Balance, coordination, strength, and range of motion can all be improved in the water. It’s not uncommon for parents to notice confidence and self-esteem boost, either.

When your child learns how to swim with SafeSplash, they receive all the benefits of swimming in a safe, supportive and warm environment. And we mean warm both literally and figuratively — our pools are heated to a comfortable temperature and our instructors have a passion for giving every family a great experience.

Will my child with special needs benefit from swimming lessons?

All children should learn the basics of water safety, and how to swim if they are able. Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death in children with autism. Water provides unique challenges for all sorts of kids with special needs, especially since many kids are drawn to pools, lakes, and even bathtubs. Swim lessons offer a safe and gentle way to strengthen muscles, increase lung capacity, and so much more. You’ll help your child learn water safety, too.

Kids with special needs process the world differently, and they need flexible teachers who use child-focused methods. SafeSplash Certified™ Instructors have experience teaching children with a variety of unique needs, including:

  • Autism, Asperger’s and other related developmental syndromes
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Sensory processing disorder and other sensory challenges
  • Physical difficulties and disabilities

Prior to your child’s first swim lesson, we’ll chat about your family’s goals, get to know your child’s abilities, and you can ask us any questions. You can even come in and meet the team. After this initial meeting, we’ll develop a customized teaching plan and connect you with an experienced instructor who will be a great personality match.

How to teach autistic children to swim

The Benefits of Swimming for Students with Disabilities

Swimming programs bring with them a range of benefits for students, depending on how the program is implemented and the particular needs of each student involved. The benefits can include areas such as:

  • Increased aerobic fitness
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Increased muscle endurance
  • Increased flexibility
  • Greater skills at performing transfers (eg. from wheelchair to pool)
  • Improved communication skills
  • Decreased extraneous movements and improved relaxation
  • Greater self-control
  • Improved behavioral outcomes

As a teacher of swimming, it is important to consider your program planning from both a group and individual point of view. Plan your activities so they can meet the needs of all students, and allow sufficient time for dressing and transfers.

Adaptive Equipment in Swimming

There are several schools of thought when it comes to using aids and adaptive equipment in a swimming or aquatics program with students with special needs. Some people feel it is more beneficial for students to feel and develop body control in the water without the use of any aids or equipment. They believe aids such as life jackets and flotation devices make it harder for a student to gain personal body control and learn to manage their movements in the water.

There is another school of thought which says that particularly with students with physical disabilities who are older and often heavy to manage, that there is a health and safety benefit for workers in using equipment in the water. Some students are hard to hold (e.g. students with cerebral palsy can tend to have many extraneous movements which make their bodies more prone to rotating or slipping out of your hands when you are working with them). Inexperienced volunteers or aides often also find it easier (and safer!) to have the back up of a flotation device when working with a student with a physical disability as they get more used to their body movements.

Some students too, seem to gain great pleasure from the independent movement they obtain from moving in a flotation device without the help of anyone else. For some students, this is the only time in their week that they are able to move from one place to another without someone else taking them there. Imagine the pleasure and sense of independence that brings to a student with a severe or multiple disability!

Some common aids used in swimming include:

  • Life jackets
  • Swim rings
  • Arm bands (try these under a foot as well!)
  • Pool noodles
  • Back pack style floats
  • Floating mats

Consult with your aquatic trainer or relevant aquatic organization such as Autism in Australia to find out which aids and support techniques are likely to be appropriate for your situation.

A Word on Safety in the Pool

A final word on safety, Before you embark on your swimming program, ensure that you have the following in place:

  1. A good ratio of staff to students (remember to have a ‘spotter’ for any students with epilepsy)
  2. Careful planning
  3. A practiced and documented emergency plan
  4. Warm, clean water
  5. A safe entry and exit method
  6. Good leadership
  7. Volunteers and aides who follow direction well
  8. Good, well maintained equipment which is checked before each session
  9. Trained, qualified swimming teachers

Teaching on Water Safety

It is all too easy to perceive students with significant levels of disability as being passive recipients of our teaching programs, rather than as active and involved learners. One way to combat this perception issue is to focus upon the teaching of water safety knowledge and skills to students with disabilities. By focusing upon skills such as:

  • Safe entry and exit
  • Assessment of risk to self and others
  • Swimming in safe locations and with appropriate support and assistance
  • Safety around other water environments such as lakes and rivers
  • Being aware of rescue strategies such as calling for help, throwing a rescue aide, using a phone to call for assistance or pointing to a specific location in the water

We can support and encourage students to become more aware of how their pool based skills can apply to more complex and varied aquatic environments.

Adapted Aquatic sports are ideal for children with a wide range of disabilities that span from Down Syndrome to Autism, CP, brain injuries, and more. Our head adapted physical education coach, Marnie Young, has a wealth of knowledge and experience teaching children with disabilities in the water environment. She:

  • Has a Master’s Degree in Adapted Physical Education
  • Two teaching credentials in Adapted Physical Education,and Kinesiology
  • More than 30 years of experience
  • Is a credentialed teacher
  • Is a 16 time national world diving champion
  • Is a World Master diving champion

Take her qualifications, and add her genuine love and passion for children, and you have a caring dynamic coach eager to work with your child to help him or her reach their very best.

Come As You Are Swim Team

Our Come As You Are swim team welcomes kids from all backgrounds with any type of disability to join others in a collaborative and supportive fun mode of play and competition where we learn and grow together. Your child will learn valuable teamwork skills, receive support from peers, learn how to support others, and fine-tune various sets of motor skills while facing challenges and finding JOY and success around every corner!

Did you know that aquatics is the most popular sport for kids with special needs? The history of adapted aquatics got its start in 1960 at the first Paralympic Games in Rome. The 2012 London Paralympics made swimming the second largest event in terms of athlete participation numbers–148 medal events with 600 athletes almost evenly divided between men and women caught the attention of the world, and now adapted aquatics is the number one sport for kids with disabilities in America!

For parents, teaching children to swim should be part of their growing up, but it’s not always the first thing you think of if you never learned how to swim, or have fears of the water. These frustrations don’t have to be a part of your kid’s life. Swimming lessons for kids can also teach the adults to love the water as well.

A basic swimming course can help keep kids safe around water and able to control their body while in the water. This can create a lifelong love of a fitness routine that will follow them throughout their lives. When kids develop the muscle skills to be safe and enjoy the water in the pool, they can safely explore other sports, such as scuba diving, canoeing and water rafting. Learning to swim can open the door to many other adventures.

Learning Basic Water Safety

Sadly, drowning is a leading cause of death in children. Through their natural curiosity, children are drawn to water. The danger extends beyond the backyard pool to rivers, lakes, city flood control measures and stormwater management structures – great magnets for kids out exploring the local area. Many accidents happen around ponds and other bodies of water simply because a child slips and doesn’t understand how to tread water or turn their body while in the water. Giving your child the opportunity to learn how to navigate water even if they have an accident, can give them the skills to save their life.

Swimming is a Life Skill

By learning to swim, your children will be able to engage in other water sports throughout their lifetimes. This may mean being able to swim in the ocean, learning to scuba dive along coral reefs or getting involved in competitive swimming events. The ability to swim gives everyone the opportunity to explore new options. This can include jet skiing, water skiing, surfing and kayaking. You may even find that your child enjoys synchronized swimming or competitive diving.

Swimming is Great Exercise

Understanding how to safely move one’s body through the water gives your child the skills to participate in a low-impact form of exercise. With childhood obesity on the rise, the opportunity to exercise all the muscles of the body is the perfect way to give them exercise without them even knowing it. The act of swimming has a low amount of stress of their joints and bones. This is additionally true if your child has any special needs or challenges. Swimming promotes the building of core strength which makes all other actions easier.

Swimming is Fun

When kids are swimming, they are burning off pent up energy while also getting an amazing workout. When children are confident in the water, they will begin to be comfortable playing with their friends in and around the water. Water based games, like Marco Polo and volleyball, can build confidence and deepen friendships. When your child learns to swim and navigate water independently, you have the opportunity to relax a bit and not worry so much. This doesn’t mean that a child can swim unsupervised, there still needs to be an adult nearby or a qualified lifeguard keeping watch. That way, if there are any problems, someone will be nearby to help.

Opportunities for the Whole Family to Spend Time Together

When your child learns to swim, this opens new opportunities for everyday and vacation opportunities. Whether it becomes a regular group activity or an opportunity to learn a new water sport, that it up to you and your child. Perhaps you can consider that Caribbean vacation that you have been eyeing for some time. Or how about a family winter weekend in one of America’s countless indoor water parks? With a child who understands water safety and can swim, many opportunities are now a possibility.

Many Learning Opportunities

There are many things that children learn while taking swimming lessons. First of all, they will learn how to become independent and to control their behavior. Secondly, swimming lessons teach discipline and working well with others. All of these lessons end up building your child’s confidence. This confidence will play out in all areas of life forever.

Swimming is a Lifelong Joy and Skill

The American Academy of Pediatrics in recent years recommended that children can begin learning to swim as early as one year of age. As with all skills, it’s often easier to adapt to the water at a young age than when older and perhaps more fearful of water. Once kids develop the skills to move their bodies through the water and to be safe around bodies of water, they have an added layer of protection in their daily life.

In America, water is everywhere, with 3 great coastlines, abundant swimming pools and countless (and often unregulated) landscaping water ponds – including stormwater retention ponds mandated by municipalities. For children at play, these are natural magnets, so arm your kiddo with the right skills in case they ever have an accident near water or get pulled into a dangerous situation.

There are many benefits to enrolling your child in water safety and swimming classes as early as possible. Even with swim lessons, anyone near water will always have a risk of drowning. But the skills children learn significantly lowers their danger. And swimming is an activity that the whole family can enjoy together. When you consider the advantages, it simply makes sense to foster these skills in your child.

There are no definite causes for autism. Some blame it on genes others feel few environmental factors can trigger autism. Over the past decade many studies and researches have been done on this issue and lot of information on autism are available in books, journals, newspapers, TV and in Internet, but no one could figure out the exact cause that can be attributed to autism. More.

How to teach autistic children to swim

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How to teach autistic children to swim

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How to teach autistic children to swim

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How to teach autistic children to swim

Teaching an autistic child to swim requires lot of patience and right guidance. A physical activity such as swimming can help an autistic child by improving his or her sensory processing, gross motor skills and direction knowledge. Each of these three major skills needs to be observed in detail and gradually in steps one must go ahead. An autistic child must be handled individually for obtaining better outcomes. Swimming has proved to be a great means for opening up in such children. More.

How to teach autistic children to swim A pet in the family naturally brings happiness and joy. Especially children become friends with their pets very quickly. If there is an autistic child in your family the reasons for bringing a pet at home should be even more suitable. Pets bestow unconditional love and friendship. An autistic child who is generally away from the rest of the peer may find immense satisfaction, love and companionship from a pet at home. More..

Earn your certification to teach American Red Cross swimming and water safety, and gain the skills needed to teach courses and make presentations to swimmers of every age and ability. Through our Aquatic Instructor Training program, you can help recreational swimmers meet their goals, refine their skills and stay safe in, on, and around water. Choose the training that best meets your needs:

The Basic Swim Instructor (BSI)

course trains instructor candidates to teach the fundamental Learn-to-swim courses including Parent and Child Aquatics, Preschool Aquatics, Learn-to-Swim Levels 1-3 and private swimming lessons (for the courses listed). BSI candidates are not required to perform advanced swimming strokes and skills such as butterfly, backstroke and diving.

The Water Safety Instructor (WSI)

course trains instructor candidates to teach all of the courses presented in the Swimming and Water Safety program to all age groups; all of the courses listed above, plus Learn-to-Swim Levels 4-6 and Adult Swim. This certification is the gold standard and provides the most comprehensive training for swim instructors.

What You’ll Learn

During our swim instructor certification training courses you’ll learn how to help individuals enjoy their time in the water safely – and in a wide range of ways. Throughout the courses we’ll focus on a number of key areas that can help you succeed as aquatics instructor, such as:

  • Water safety at public pools, homes, natural bodies of water and more, including the Circle of Drowning Prevention and Chain of Drowning Survival.
  • Hydrodynamics, including why some things float, resistance to movement and creating movement in water, swimming efficiency and laws of levers.
  • Basic safety, survival and swimming skills to help children gain water competency.
  • Helping people with disabilities and other health conditions enjoy the water safely.

Water Safety Instructors will also learn how to teach:

  • Higher-level swim skills that help prepare people of all ages for any aquatic activity.
  • Stroke mechanics for all competitive strokes as well as starts, turns and headfirst entries.
  • Water safety certification courses, including Safety Training for Swim Coaches and Basic Water Rescue.
  • Fundamentals of diving from a diving board.
  • Aquatic fitness and training for people of any age.

Note: In order to participate in Basic Swim Instructor and Water Safety Instructor certification classes, participants must be at least 16 years of age by the end of the course.