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PFA Tips: Finding the Right Swim Lesson

By Vee Cecil, Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer

Download a printable version of “Finding the Right Swim Lesson”

For children, knowing how to swim can be a life-saver. For children with autism, a population for which drowning is a top cause of death, this is especially true. One way to protect them, of course, is to teach them how to swim.
swim lesson
Though kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) tend to have a deep appreciation for water, they may not respond well to traditional swim lessons. If you’re seeking swim lessons for your child, here is a step-by-step process to help you find the right program for them.

Look for small classes
A traditional swim lesson may not offer the supervision and attention your child needs to be successful. However, there are many programs that are designed specifically based on the needs of children with autism. Visit our online provider database and check the category “Recreation and Social Groups.”

Make sure any necessary adaptive equipment is provided
If your child has physical disabilities, you will need to find a pool that is fully accessible for them. The Americans with Disabilities Act has put in place certain accessibility requirements for public pools. Seek out a pool that meets these requirements.

Make sure the swim instructor is trained to work with children with ASD
Your child will be most successful with an instructor who understands their needs and how to work with them. Specially trained instructors will know to focus on three key areas of concern for children with autism—“communication, social interaction, and interest.”

Find a program that can address sensory processing disorder
If your child has sensory issues, seek out a swim program that is familiar with dealing with those issues as lessons unfold. Certainly, don’t let problems associated with a sensory processing disorder convince you that your child won’t be a successful swimmer. As this blog post on children with autism and sensory issues notes, often even children who have sensory problems associated with water love being in the water once they’ve been exposed to it.

When you find the right program for your child, you may be pleasantly surprised. The extraordinary benefits that come from swimming will make a huge difference in your child’s life.

Additional Resources

PFA Tips: Make Swimming Fun and Safe
Tips for Teaching Swimming to Students with AutismVideo: “Swim School” by Real Look AutismThank you to guest author Vee Cecil. Vee is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor who lives in Kentucky with her family. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently-launched blog.

© 2015 Pathfinders for Autism



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