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As an organization that strongly focuses on water safety and survival, we believe that every child should have the opportunity to benefit from these fundamental skills and enjoy the water in a safe and comfortable environment, including children on the autism spectrum.
In honor of National Autism Awareness this month, we would like to share some information regarding the benefits swimming can provide for children on the autism spectrum.
Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children and adults on the autism spectrum. According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for approximately 90% of total U.S. reported deaths in children with an ASD under the age of 14. Although water safety and drowning prevention is important for every child to learn, children on the autism spectrum are at higher risk because they may seek isolation by fleeing to unfamiliar territories, says Dr. Varleisha Gibbs, OTD, OTR/L occupational therapy professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. In addition, most are naturally drawn to the water. Learning how to swim along with learning vital water safety skills can serve to save lives and prevent drowning.
Besides drowning prevention and water safety, parents report other side effects from learning how to swim, including improved speech and cognitive function. According to an article published in the International Journal of Sport Psychology, water is a soothing environment that emphasizes gentle and repetitive motion. For children on the autism spectrum, the water on the body has a calming effect and reduces any enervating noises. Parents notice that pool time helps students cope with everyday stresses outside of the water as well.
A Social Outlet
According to the Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF), swimming can help children on the autism spectrum improve speech, coordination, social skills, self-esteem, and cognitive processing. While these children are often excluded from other sports because there are too many elements to focus on, being underwater can provide them with alone time where he or she doesn’t have to anticipate a ball being passed to them or be responsible for the success of a team. Swimming provides an excellent opportunity for parallel play and for a child to be in the play environment but to interact at a level that is comfortable for them.
Our Adaptive Aquatics Program
The Texas Swim Academy Adaptive Aquatics program is designed to teach life-saving skills to children of all ages and abilities and helps them embrace their natural affinity with water in a safe and beneficial way.
While a traditional swim class will usually have instructors who are not trained to work with children on the autism spectrum and do not understand their special learning requirements, Texas Swim Academy instructors are trained by leading experts in autistic swim instruction to communicate effectively with swimmers on the autism spectrum. In addition to this, we create a calm, patient, and reassuring atmosphere suited to the individual needs and abilities of each swimmer. Our facility is proud to offer a program that can be tailored to individual needs and abilities to meet specific challenges. We believe that with enough consistency, patience, and compassion, every student can learn these valuable skills and build confidence in the water. Tune into the video below to learn what parents are saying about the Adaptive Aquatics program at Texas Swim Academy:
We are thrilled to offer this special program and allow every single child to succeed and build confidence in the water. To learn more about our Adaptive Aquatics program, please contact us or visit our programs page.