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For every child, swimming can be a fun experience. Do you remember your first time in a swimming pool? How it felt to move in and under the water? The feeling is much different from bouncing on a trampoline or riding a bike; the feeling is very calming, quiet, and soothing.
Children on the autism spectrum are certainly capable of participating in physical activity and athletics. And swimming is one of those activities that a child on the autism spectrum can benefit from to keep them safe in and around water, provide physical fitness, a social outlet, and ease repetitive behaviors.
People on the autism spectrum experience levels of sensory perception that most of us don’t know or could understand. The feeling overloads them, and so they engage in behaviors that distract them as a result. Exercise can give them the same opportunities to engage in those behaviors but without the negative social connotations.
Swimming is an activity that involves repetitive, rhythmic movements that are similar to the behaviors that help distract those on the autism spectrum. Every child, however, has his or her own unique challenges a swim instructor must adapt to. The challenges vary. Some children are withdrawn, while other are more engaged. Some children speak while others do not speak at all. Through patience and communication to parents, instructors can best understand and teach a child how to swim and enjoy the activity.
The Benefits of Swimming
According to the National Autism Association, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children and adults on the autism spectrum. While water safety and drowning prevention is important for every child to learn, those on the autism spectrum are at higher risk because they may seek isolation or a distraction by fleeing to unfamiliar territories. In addition to this, most people on the autism spectrum are naturally drawn to the water. Learning vital water safety skills and swimming skills can serve to save their life and prevent accidents.
Many sources, including our own parents and instructors, will tell you that swimming not only prevents drowning, but improves speech and cognitive function. The soothing environment coupled with the gentle and repetitive motion helps students cope with everyday stresses. And unlike many other sports and activities, swimming is an activity that children on the autism spectrum can enjoy alone or with others. Instead of anticipating a ball being passed or being responsible for the success of a team, students can enjoy swimming at a level that is comfortable and appropriate for them.
Our Adaptive Aquatics Program
At Texas Swim Academy, we believe that every child has the capability to learn how to swim. All of our swim programs are designed to teach life-saving skills to children of all ages and abilities. And we embrace those differences with patience, support, and guidance. Texas Swim Academy instructors are trained by leading experts in autism swim instruction to communicate effectively to swimmers on the autism spectrum. Our facility is proud to offer a program that can be adjusted and tailored to individual needs and abilities to meet and overcome specific challenges. Tune to the videos below to learn more about our Adaptive Aquatics swim program: