It turns out that a swimming pool might be the perfect investment for autistic kids. Statistics show that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are at a high risk of drowning. Therefore, water safety is a primary reason for teaching autistic children to swim. However, there are many other reasons that learning to swim can benefit kids with ASD, including higher self-esteem, better social skills, greater coordination, learning to listen and follow directions, and much more.
Water Safety for Autistic Kids
A recently published study was conducted with 12 families with one or more autistic children. At the end of the study, all the parents involved felt that there had been a noticeable increase in the level of water safety of their autistic children. While none of the adults thought their children could be left unattended in the water, all believed that their children had progressed in their swimming ability. Parents also reported that there was an additional carry-over of other skills such as increased strength and a positive response to swimming and water activities.
Therapeutic Benefits for Autistic Kids
Many children with ASD suffer from what is known as sensory processing disorder. That is the feeling of being overstimulated by things they can see, hear, taste, smell, or touch. Autistic kids are oversensitive to stimuli that others may not even be aware of. Water provides a soothing environment with positive therapeutic effects. There is consistency in the water’s resistance, pressure, and temperature which has a calming effect on autistic kids. The reduction of ambient noise while being in the water, therefore, makes it easy for the child to ignore the world around him. The child’s senses are stimulated gently, but not overly so.
In addition, being in the water has a meditative effect, which can help keep kids calm. The focus on taking regular breaths and the repetitive counting of swimming strokes is remarkably effective to reduce outside stimuli. The child’s mind is kept focused, and he/she may be less worried about their surroundings.
Building Social Skills in Autistic Kids
Introducing a swimming instructor can have a positive effect on the child by having them learn to listen and interact with other adults. If the lessons are held consistently with the same instructor, in most cases the child may bond with that person over time. One-on-one instruction may be more effective than group lessons for kids with ASD. The child’s cognitive processing ability can also improve by practicing listening skills and following directions. As the child’s swimming ability increases, so can their muscle strength and self-esteem.
Outside lesson time, swimming with family or with other children may become a favorite activity for autistic children. Many people in the aforementioned study stated that the increased time spent in a shared family recreational activity was enjoyed by all. Notably, without exception, every autistic child with verbal ability said that they really enjoyed swimming and being in the water.
Having a child with ASD can make water activities challenging. However, a swimming pool might be the perfect investment for autistic kids because of the many benefits it can provide. With proper instruction in water safety, the peace of mind gained by both parents and kids alike is priceless. Add in the hydrotherapy, increased social skills, and all-around enjoyment, you have made an addition to your family’s recreation that will benefit all participants. Contact the professional staff at Aqua Pools for information on getting the perfect pool for your needs. We have two locations, Homer Glen and Worth.