Each year, children are tragically killed in drowning incidents across the U.S. Many of the victims are toddlers who never learned how to swim or react to falling into a body of water. Autistic children are especially at risk of drowning. According to the American Red Cross, drowning is the leading cause of death among autistic children and adults, and autistic children are 160 times likelier to suffer fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents than neurotypical children.
Fortunately, autistic children and those with other types of special needs can learn how to swim just like their neurotypical peers. Swim lessons can save lives while also providing other benefits to children with special needs. Recently, Baby Otter Swim School partnered with Bridges Behavioral Health to provide special needs swim lessons and teach autistic children how to swim and what to do if they fell into a body of water.
Baby Otter Swim School Holds Special Needs Swim School Event
Like other children, autistic children are drawn to water and might have a reduced awareness of the dangers that they can face when they enter pools. Together with Bridges Behavioral Health, Baby Otter Swim School worked with sponsors to provide special needs swim lessons to 13 autistic children so that they could learn how to swim and what to do if they ever fall into a pool or another body of water. The children quickly learned how to swim, and their parents were amazed by their achievements.
The instructors at the special needs swim school used visual and verbal prompts, repetition, modeling, and intuitive methods to teach the skills the children needed to learn how to swim and retain their newly acquired skills. The program was structured and taught on a one-on-one basis to allow for modification and accommodation based on each child’s needs.
The graduation ceremony was attended by several celebrities, including Baseball Hall of Fame player Andre Dawson “The Hawk” and NBA All-Star Billy Thompson. Each child’s achievements were celebrated, and the children were recognized for their accomplishments in learning how to swim through Baby Otter’s proprietary Turn, Kick, and Reach program.
Benefits of Special Needs Swim School
Swimming lessons provide numerous benefits for all children. Children who learn how to swim also obtain other benefits that can be particularly helpful for autistic kids.
Overcoming Fear of the Unknown
Autistic children are fearful of the unknown just like other kids. Taking swimming lessons helps all children learn how to participate in something even though it is a new experience. Once a child discovers they can learn despite their initial feelings of fear, it can provide a great sense of achievement.
Becoming More Confident
When a child masters a skill while learning how to swim, they will become more confident in themselves and their abilities. Gaining confidence can also help children to feel better about themselves and their abilities in other areas of their lives.
Developing Trust in Others
When autistic children are taught how to swim, they build trust in their teachers even when they might initially feel scared. Gaining trust in someone else helps children to apply the knowledge they have learned in other social situations and helps them learn how to determine whether others can also be trusted.
Autistic children communicate in multiple ways, including children who are nonverbal. When learning how to swim, children can feel free to communicate in the ways that feel most comfortable without feeling the pressure. By hearing and watching instructions through verbal and visual cues and modeling, children can instinctually communicate and receive feedback as they interact with their teachers.
Opportunity for Relaxation
Many children experience welcome relaxation when they play in the water. When autistic children learn to swim at Baby Otter Swim School, they can also enjoy feeling centered and relaxed. This feeling of relaxation can help children to become more open to experiencing new activities and continuing to grow.
While children take swimming lessons, they will be around others and often begin to build friendships with those around them. Children can socialize together as they pursue a common goal and share a common interest.
Enroll in a Special Needs Swim School Program
If your child is autistic or has other special needs, they can learn to swim just like neurotypical children. Teaching your child how to swim can help to keep them safe and open them up to new adventures. Contact Baby Otter Swim School today to sign your child up by calling us at 1-888-SWIM-KID.