Swimming benefits an autistic child in many ways.
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.
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:
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.