Thursday, July 11, 2024

How To Teach Swimming To An Autistic Child

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Special Needs Swimwear And Swim Nappies

Best Swim lessons in Houston | Teach Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

It is important to buy swim nappies and incontinence swimwear if your child is incontinent to ensure that your child can swim with confidence and dignity, avoiding any accidents whilst in the water. Unlike swim nappies for babies and toddlers, special needs swim nappies are not available to buy in supermarkets. However, you can buy disposable swim nappies and reusable swim nappies online.

Disposal swim nappies, like regular nappies, can be thrown away after use. They have an absorbent core, which does not swell up in water.

Reusable swim nappies can be purchased and used time and time again. They are made from soft, stretchy bathing suit material, which allows water to escape but should contain any solids. Often they take the form of usual swimwear, which makes them discreet. At SpecialKids.Company, we offer a range of fashionable and functional incontinence swimwear for children with built-in special needs swim nappies. You will find on our website a range of special needs swim shorts and special needs swimsuits for boys and girls from 3 to 16 years old.

How To Teach An Autistic Child To Swim

Teaching swimming to a child with autism can take considerable time, especially if the child has an aversion to water. The initial step is observation and evaluation, followed by a plan of action. The plan should be broken down into small, achievable steps. Each child is different so it is critical to create a system specific to the child you are working with.

Swimming Lesson For An Autistic Child:

The above aforementioned are pre-emptive steps for you, they are also steps that should be applied to your childs swimming lessons. Prepare for your first lesson! Heres how a swimming lesson with your autistic child will likely go. You will want to have task variation that should use this structure or something similar. Decide how long you want the lessons to be and commit to those times. Will a lesson be 30 minutes, 1 hour or 2? This might be dependant on factors such as

Before entering the water

1) Use pictures to augment your social story and continue the process of getting your child used to the idea of swimming lessons. Photos and videos can be particularly beneficial to children who are nonverbal or who are visual thinkers generally.

2) Many autistic children do better in a new environment if theyre given the opportunity to become familiar with the place without any expectations. Introducing your child to the location where swim lessons will take place can help them become more comfortable.

4) Autistic people are often very passionate about a particular object or topic of interest. Using a childs interests may be the most important technique the instructor can use to capture and hold their attention during lessons. Let the instructor know your childs point of interest.

Entering the water

Heres what a structured lesson might entail :

Have introductory songs and games for warm up 5 to 10 minutes

Individual instruction nearby encouraging!) 20 minutes

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The Lessons Are Very Much In Demand

Thirteen children are currently enrolled in the 30 minute sessions which follow the Learn to Swim programme from Duckling to Stage 3.

Rebecca Truman, activity development officer for Chesterfield Borough Council, said: The lessons are very much in demand and we already have a waiting list for the beginner class.

Were hoping to expand and to run more sessions including lessons for teenagers and a general autism-friendly swim session.

We worked closely with local schools and also a swim school who run lessons for children with physical and learning disabilities including autism.

The teachers also attended a course run by Challenge Consultancy and Training who specialise in teaching children with autism. Every child deserves the chance to learn to swim. We are just making little changes to ensure they can.

If you would like to find local Swim England lesson providers please head to the Swim England Poolfinder.

Autisms Impact On Social Skills

How to Teach Autistic Children to Swim (with Pictures ...

Autism is a developmental disorder that can impact the way a person communicates, interacts with the world around them, and manages emotions.

Social skills are formed through regular interactions with people. Since children with autism have a hard time understanding and reading others, social skills often need to be taught differently.

The CDC publishes that symptoms of autism related to social skills and interactions include:

  • An inability to read others.
  • Difficulties with back-and-forth conversations and interactions.
  • Poor nonverbal communication skills and behaviors, and difficulty understanding these cues in other people.
  • Trouble adjusting behaviors to the situation, often resulting in inappropriate behaviors.
  • Lack of interest in peers.
  • No desire for imaginary or collaborative play.
  • Inflexibility with routines and schedules.
  • Sensory sensitivities.
  • Difficulty responding to social interactions or initiating them.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means it can have varying degrees of severity and disability.

Some children are high-functioning. They are able to mask autism symptoms until social pressures build and become too vast for them. This often coincides with entering a highly social environment like school.

Social skills can be limited or different in a child with autism regardless of the severity of the disorder. Generally, a higher degree of disability means a more significant impact on behavior, communication skills, and social interactions.

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Teaching Your Autistic Child To Swim Can Save Their Life

by Tamara | Mar 27, 2021 | Getting Help

When we think of children and water, we imagine them frolicking in swimming pools or at the beach. Or they may be enjoying a hot summer day in the cool water. Yet, parents of an autistic child are fearful thinking about their child near water if they have not yet learned to swim. Learning to swim brings a lot of benefits to child with autism. It also could save their life one day.

A Calm And Peaceful Pool

The classes are proving to be popular, especially with eight-year-old Jack Drury.

Jacks mum, Dawn Allen, explained: Id wanted Jack to learn to swim for a long time but I just knew the lessons Id seen werent going to be suitable for him. Then we went on a family holiday to Butlins and I realised he was quite frightened of the pool.

Thats when I started looking for appropriate classes and found these at Staveley.

Hes been to four lessons now and he loves it. He doesnt want to get out at the end. Hes so enthusiastic, hes always asking when he can go again.

I think the main thing is he really likes the instructor but theyve set the whole environment up to help. They have small groups which means the teachers can get to know their individual needs. The music is turned off and the lights are turned down.

Were going back to Butlins after this block of lessons and Im really looking forward to seeing the difference in him. Its also a big relief to know that hes working towards being safe in the water.

We definitely want to carry on with these sessions. Im also starting to feel a bit better about the thought of taking him to the pool by myself.

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How Do We Tailor Our Swim Lessons For Kids With Autism

First, as you can see in the video, Coach Maureen spins and rolls Luke to wake up his vestibular system and proprioceptive system. This also sets a base for back swimming and rolling for air.

Next, Coach Maureen takes Luke through a series of warm-up activities:

  • Blast Offs: These are a fun way to get Luke to start swimming on his back. Coach Maureen is able to get his head back in the water and gets him to start kicking.
  • Bobs: These are a time-tested way to get children comfortable going under water. In addition, the water pressure at the bottom of the pool acts like a big hug for Luke, releasing dopamine and having a calming effect on him. Kids love bobs!
  • Guided Swims: Coach Maureen helps Luke learn to streamline, or level, his body in the water. A streamlined body moves more easily through the water, and it positions Luke look better for adding arm and leg movements.
  • Now, with his mind and body warmed up, Coach Maureen moves Luke into more traditional swim instruction, such as the elementary backstroke, working on coordinating the arm motion with the body position.

    Later in the lesson, Luke will put on goggles for the first time. The video captures this special moment, showing how calm and confident Luke is with the goggles and assistance from his Mom and Coach Maureen.

    With the goggles on, hell begin to dive for rings. This is another favorite for all kids, and it offers similar benefits to the bobs because hes going to the bottom of the pool.

    Special Needs Swim Lessons Require Specialized Teaching Skills

    Five Golden Rules – How to Teach a Child with Autism to Swim

    FOSS makes training available for instructors who want to work with special needs kids, and also has a relationship with the Shriners hospital, working with kids who have had amputations. Every child is different, said DAr. The special training covers a lot of key topics, and you learn a lot more just from working with kids.

    Ultimately, DAr hopes the parents of special needs children understand that what seems like a daunting challenge most often turns out to be a positive experience for everyone: the parents, who get greater peace of mind and can see their kids progressing the children, who develop valuable skills and have a lot of fun doing so and even the instructors, who find great satisfaction in the work.

    You have to know when to push enough and when to take a break, said DAr, speaking of working with the kids. But in the end, whatever they want, they will eventually get to it.

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    Using Customized Home Study Plan

    Not everyone studies the same. I for one always preferred to study with music in the background and sitting on the floor. Now this may sound like a distraction, having music in the background but it worked for me! Sitting on the floor allowed me to spread my wings! This allowed me to organize all my homework right in front of me. Now, in hindsight, I created my own world to study in. My very own selection of music and my way of laying out my homework had continued on even through college.

    Fig 5

    Benefits Of Swimming For Those With Autism

    In addition to drowning prevention, swimming offers children with autism many other benefits. Those can include the following:

    • Swimming is a great form of exercise, and our children with autism and ADHD can receive additional benefits by moving more.
    • Autistic children who swim regularly may see a reduction of repetitive motion and behaviors. Studies have shown the repetitive motion of swimming can imitate some of the repetitive motions that children with autism experience. This can soothe the child and reduce some of the other repetitive motions.
    • Swimming is a fun activity for most children, and they love to play in the water. Therefore, swimming can Increase social interactions with peers for children with autism.
    • Being at the pool or beach can provide autistic children with opportunities for observational play.
    • Learning to swim can help boost self-confidence in children with autism.

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    How To Boost Social Skills In Autistic Children

    If your child has limited social skills, it doesnt mean they are destined to live this way for the rest of their life.

    Autistic children can benefit greatly from therapy, particularly applied behavior analysis therapy, which is considered the ideal treatment for autism. If a childs social skills are further limited by communication issues, such as speech issues, speech therapy may also be recommended.

    Parents are key to a childs success. With conscious efforts to implement the lessons learned in therapy on a regular basis and positive reinforcement, parents can help their children better communicate with the world around them.

    Oftentimes, autistic children can see substantial improvements in their social skills due to therapy and parental work at home.

    Here are five ways to improve your childs social skills:

    Always Encourage The Student

    How to Teach Autistic Children to Swim (with Pictures ...

    All the other swimming therapy techniques for students with special needs are important but this one is by far the easiest to do. Make sure that you are always encouraging the student and recognizing any sort of improvement and rewarding them for it. Things such as high fives and clapping are guaranteed to go a much longer way than you think.

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    Can Children With Autism Swim

    Children with autism can usually do anything neurotypical children can as long as they have proper guidance. It helps to recognize how an activity like swimming can benefit kids on the spectrum. The activity is great for children who may need help with sensory processing, gross motor development, and following directions.

    Every Child With Autism Is Different They All Have Differing Abilities

    With Jeremiah, he doesnt understand directions that arent a part of his every day life, and even those were difficult for many years . So, we werent able to explain, Hold your breath, or Close your mouth, or Dont breathe in your nose. How do you teach a child not to suck in a nose-full of chlorinated water? Surprisingly, Jeremiahs done much better at learning to keep his mouth closed, and not choke when going under, than many other typical children. He learned VERY quickly what not to do. Hes only coughed up water a couple times.

    This is the same with kicking his legs and moving his arms in the pool, we didnt move Jeremiahs legs, but its the first swimming movement he caught onto, second was the movement of his arms. We can now place our hand under his tummy and he will swim. Not enough to keep himself afloat, but hes getting there.

    You may be wondering if weve had Jeremiah in swim lessons, we did, hes been through two classes. However, I dont really feel they were extremely beneficial. I believe if we had a better instructor , Jeremiah may have progressed more, but in the end, he seems to do most things at his speed anyway. I do feel the swim teacher was helpful in that it was someone he didnt know, touching him and talking to him twice a week. Its important for children with Autism to be around others and in new environments, working with their comfort level in mind.

    A few things I love about this video are:

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    The sensory aspects of water can also attract children with autism, though for different reasons, said Michele Alaniz, a behavioral therapist in California. For autistic kids who seek out stimulation, they are attracted to the way it sounds, the play of light on it and the feeling of buoyancy and the way it feels on the body, she said. For kids who are driven to isolating themselves from stimulation, on the other hand, water can be very calming, especially under the water, where there is a muffling of external sound and a kind of quiet, said Alaniz.

    That can lead kids to submerge themselves in water and not realize the danger or to not have the skills to act if they do.

    Weve put these children in the pool, and where others would sort of cling to the wall and hold on, the ones with autism would just release and sink, said Alaniz.

    Even when they know theyre in trouble, they may not have the communication, the language to say they need help, said Dickerson. And with the motor discoordination some of them have, they may not be able to pull themselves out of the water.

    Swim Success For Autism

    Teaching autistic children to swim

    A swim school in Sunderland has become the first in the UK to become an Autism Swim Approved Centre, and one young student that will benefit hugely from this is eight-year-old Myles, who had previously been told he was unteachable in a mainstream or small group class because of the severity of his autism.

    in at the deep end is an STA Swim Star Swim School, and its owner Mark McNichol has been teaching learners with additional needs for the last eleven yearsas well as running IATDE, he also works as a teacher within a specialist autistic school helping youngsters aged 1119 years.

    Mark said: Whilst working in this sector, Ive become acutely aware of the limited experiences some children have, as well as the barriers and roadblocks some children have in accessing extra-curricular activities. With my business partner, Kim, who also works in primary learning support, we set up IATDE to make sure no swimmer who comes to us is ever barred or excluded due to having additional needs.

    Teaching swimming to individuals with autism spectrum disorder requires specialist training, procedures, resources and support. Autism Swim provides this and they are widely recognised as world leaders in wandering, drowning prevention and swimming for those with ASD/cognitive deficit.

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    Keep Instructions Short And Be Extra Clear

    The advice from experts such as Cathy Bell is to keep instructions short and sweet and wait. Too many instructions creates confusion and chaos in the minds of autistic children. This can make swim lessons a source of distress for everybody.


    Children with autism thrive in a repetitive environment. They like order and predictability. Use written instructions, pictures or even tablets/ipads to layout the lesson plan and activities. Ability to count and tick off the exercises with simple tools such as pegs does wonder.

  • Autistic children love organised and we-explained teaching. Therefore, the more organised a teacher is, the more engaging the lessons will be.
  • For more tips and advice both for parents and swim teachers, Tammy and Cathys book, Swimming with Autism is highly recommended. You can see them here as they give their top tips.

    Whether you are a parent or a swim teacher, you can also get plenty more tips and advice on this topic by listening to Swimming with Autism podcasts . In this episode of Swimming with Autism, I had the pleasure to talk about what I learnt at the conference.

    We offer private Swim lessons For children with autism.

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