My name is Cate and I am the mother of two children with Autism.
From the minute my children were born, before the disability diagnosis, I was very focused on making sure my children could swim as soon as they came of age. Once the children were diagnosed with Autism, I knew that the need for water safety instruction and swim lessons was absolutely critical for their survival, as children with Autism can be abnormally drawn to water and can have a difficult time understanding the concept of danger.
I went searching for swim schools and was repeatedly denied. Without even seeing my son, who is considered severe and nonverbal, I was told that he would never learn to swim. I was also told that with my daughter’s difficult behaviors, she was also “not welcome” for swim instruction. The final devastating blow came when a swim school who actually used a nonverbal Autistic child and their ability to learn in their program as a selling point to bring in clients, proceeded to tell me my nonverbal son could not be taught to swim.
I was sad and I was scared for the safety of my children, living in a state filled with lakes, pools and surrounded on three sides by the sea. Finally, my pediatrician sent me to Baby Otter where he had sent his children for lessons.
From the minute I first spoke with the school, I knew we were in good hands! I was not told my children were guaranteed to swim in any specific time frame, but I was assured that the instructors at the swim school would stay with both of my kids until they learned to swim, regardless of their learning disability or “limitations”. We enrolled by kids at the ages of 4 and 5 into the TKR, Turn, Kick, Reach program.
Not only did both of my kids pass the TKR on the fifth day, but both of my kids became such strong swimmers so quickly, they were enrolled in the school’s Special Needs Swim Team in which they were awarded medals! My children have continued to grow in ability and strength through the years and they have both become the best swimmers I know! Not only that, they both swim regularly in the ocean and surf!