How swimming benefits an autistic child

Swimming benefits an autistic child in many ways.

It is summer time, here in the UK!  A good way to spend the holiday is to go out and swimswimming benefits girl-1296326_640 on the beach or at a nearby pool.

John likes water play very much. When he was little, he took swimming lessons because it is not only a good recreational activity but a vital life-saving skill as well. It has been beneficial for him since then because it gave him the confidence to be on the water and be safe. He is now aware if it is safe to swim because he could tell whether the water is deep or shallow. This is important because, in the United States, accidental drowning alone accounts for approximately 90% cause of death in children with ASD under the age of 14. (Courtesy of National Autism Association)

Swimming is a good exercise for the muscles and has a relaxing therapeutic effect. The water has a calming effect on the body through the gentle, rhythmic and repetitive motion that it gives. John’s behavioral issues have lessened since he started taking swimming lessons. He has calmed down a bit and is least likely  to flap his hands whenever he gets excited.

Swimming develops motor coordination and balance because the water supports and allow them to move freely. John’s awkward movement has improved and is less likely to accidentally bump into things that will hurt him.

Swimming enhances sensory integration, cognitive skills and improves concentration through processing simple but clear instructions e.g. jump, hold on, deep breathe, move hands and feet, splash water with hands and feet, watch me float etc. John’s listening and attention skills have improved through clear, simple and brief instructions made by his swimming instructor.

Swimming provides a good example of a parallel play that is fun and enjoyable in a less crowded and comfortable environment. John’s self-esteem has improved and is less anxious every time he is in a new environment.

Swimming provides an excellent time for emotional bonding for parent and child thereby allowing good language and communication skills to take place. It also allows an opportunity for your child to interact with other children, teachers, and other adults. John’s ability to interact and communicate with other people has improved significantly.

Swimming Lessons

If you are thinking of letting your child go for swimming lessons, you could always tell if your child is ready if he likes to play with water so often every time he takes a bath.

Does your child like to dip himself in the bath of water? If you take him to the beach does he like to go near the water and dip his feet? These are signs that he is ready to take swimming lessons.

So, if you think he is ready, the next step is to find and enroll your child in a good swimming program, which is specially designed for your child with autism. You can search for your local newspaper ads or inquire at your local civic center or borough.

This video is an example of a special swimming lesson designed for an autistic child in Nottinghamshire. If this child can do it, your child can do it as well.

If you have found a good swimming program for your child, you are now ready to buy the essential things that are needed for him to take  the lessons. You can consider buying him the following:

Affiliate Disclosure

So that’s it!  Your child is ready to go and take that first plunge into the water! Every child is different and learns on his own time. He will achieve his goals through constant practice and should not be rushed to do a particular activity when they are not ready to do so. Swimming should be fun and an enjoyable experience!

I  hope you find this post useful. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Sincerely yours, 

Adel 🙂
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12 thoughts on “How swimming benefits an autistic child

  1. Learning to swim is important since our children are so drawn to water. I taught our daughter to roll and float on her back before she was a year old. She has always loved the water whether to play in or swim.

    1. It’s good to know that your daughter loves the water to play in or swim. This is good for her because it has a calming effect on her muscles.

  2. Hi Adel, wow. That is so interesting. I was at a party the other day and a friend of mine was there with her son who’s on the autism spectrum. He absolutely loved the water and was the best swimmer there! He is only 3 years old right the rest of the toddlers but was happily jumping in the pool, totally unafraid of the water. It appears to me that children with autism may be drawn to the water because they understand it’s therapeutic benefits. Do you know if there are any studies on this?

  3. Very interesting – my two boys take swimming lessons and every so often I see a little boy there who is autistic. He looks like he enjoys being in the water so I’m very glad our swimming school can accommodate his needs. When my boys first started swimming, it was…traumatic(?) for them? They were afraid of the water and cried and tried to get out the first few times. I’m wondering if it’s more traumatic for a child with autism and how to help a parent be prepared for that?

    1. My son has no problem being on the water for the first time. He enjoyed it a lot since he always liked being on the water. I was expecting that he will cry or will resort to tantrums when he took the first plunge into the water but he had a nice and fun time instead.

      So as a parent, all I can advise to parents is to never be anxious for your child with autism on taking swimming lessons for the first time.

      All the best to your children’s swimming lesson, Therese. Keep up the good work!

  4. Hi Adel,

    Very touching article, I was absorbed by the reading!
    My girlfriend has an autism boy of 12-year-old and goes with him every day at the beach, and they swim a lot!
    I would like to ask you what would be the best for him, the sea or the swimming pool? And what are the benefits for each of them?
    I have bookmarked your website so I can show her this useful article!
    Thank you for this excellent post!

    1. Thank you, Daniella, for your question. Every child with autism or not likes to swim and play in the water whether it’s in the sea or in the swimming pool. The beach, I think would be fun for children because it is closer to nature. They can play and create sandcastles and fill their buckets with sand as well as see different sea shells along the shore. But if the son of your girlfriend is still at the learning stage and go every day to swim and play along the sea shore with his mom, I think he would benefit more to learn through a swimming lesson program in a swimming pool. Besides having a qualified special needs swimming instructor to teach him, there is a designated place in the pool( specified depth for beginners) which they conduct the lessons. My son joined this program provided by his school and managed to learn the basics of swimming. And as what I have mentioned in my post, he was able to gain confidence and awareness of safe swimming. I hope I was able to help you answer your question. All the best to your girlfriend and his son! 🙂

  5. I agree that swimming can benefit a child who has autism. I have a son who is autistic and he LOVES water, it soothes him. He gets in the pool at school three times a week, but he doesn’t know how to swim yet. It will be more beneficial for him once he is ready to learn how to swim. I like your website. Good Luck!

    1. Thank you, Brenda. Your son will learn in due time as long as you continue to support and encourage him with his daily swimming activities. Take care and all the best for you and your son! 🙂

  6. Hi Adel,

    This is a wonderful article and I agree with everything you mentioned. Swimming is very therapeutic and even more so for people who are autistic.

    Many years ago I worked with a young man with autism and even though he was an adult, I saw that it really helped him too! He was like a different person in the water. Just like John, his communication was much better and his interaction with others really improved.

    You have a beautiful site and I wish you the very best with it!


    1. Thank you, Anna. Swimming is indeed therapeutic. Continue what you are doing to help people with autism. You are doing a great job. All the best! 🙂

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