5 Reasons to Take Your Autistic Child to the Pool

by / Monday, 04 May 2015 / Published in Keep Moving, Tips, Uncategorized

SwimBlog

Attention! Spring and Summer are fast approaching.  With these warmer months comes the opportunity to get outside and get some much needed exercise.   You should definitely consider taking your child swimming.  Experts agree that swimming offers plenty of benefits for kids with Autism.  Swimming can ease repetitive behaviors and also help your child build social skills.  Don’t forget that it is also great exercise.  Here are some reasons to grab your trunks and hit the pool!

 

1.) Anyone can Swim!

Kids of all levels can have fun in the pool.  Now, we know what you are thinking…my child doesn’t know how to swim.  Well, let us help you put that excuse to rest.  There are places that offer swimming lessons to children that have Autism.  For example, the Sunsational Swim School travels to your home to administer swim lessons that are tailored towards children with special needs.  Furthermore, the National Autism Association has a list of all the YMCA’s in the country that offer swim lessons to children with Autism.  Autism Speaks also posted a blog that supported the instruction that is given at the Texas Swim Academy and the Aqua Pros Swim School.  Lastly, Big Blue, a Chicagoland area swim school located in Buffalo Grove and Wilmette, accepts children with disabilities into their swimming programs.  Moreover, an article featured on the website lovin’ adoptin’ by Tracy Dee Whitt gives four magnificent reasons as to why you should take your autistic child to get swimming lessons. She explains that first of all, autistic children love the water. She also states that an autistic child who wanders may find a source of water and could fall in. If they know how to swim, they can effectively swim out. Lastly, she explains that swimming provides sensory stimulation and also helps children with Autism adapt to a different environment.

If you don’t want to go that route, there are other alternatives such as swimming in shallow ends of the pool or splash pools and splash pads. Shallow ends of the pool can be utilized for standing in the water.  This will allow your child to ease their way into swimming. If the child is younger, the shallow end will allow for parents to stand in the water and act as a guide for their child. Your child can also use swim vests, floaties, or foam noodles to stay above the water. Therefore, they can still experience the water, while being relatively safe.

Here is a link to some of the many splash pads located in Chicago. Here is a link to purchase your potential splash pool.

An article by the Super Swimmers Foundation encourages us to remember that a child with Autism can pretty much do anything a child without Autism can do.  All it takes is proper guidance and patience.

2.) Swimming Can Either Be Public or Private

If your child is comfortable being around the noises and experiences that occur at a public pool, then that is the perfect place to be! Go for it and have a splashing good time, but if your child is not comfortable around others, do not abandon the idea of going for a dip.  The great thing about swimming is that it can be done in the comfort of your own yard!  It is so easy to get a pool in your own yard. There are options out there for even the most economical people.  If you are interested in getting a pool for your child check out this link to consider which pool is best for you.

3.) Swimming is Very Soothing

Swimming is soothing because of the unique feeling of the water.  According to Autism and More, the feeling is caused by the hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy of the water. Thus, splashing, moving, or floating in the water provides the child with a wonderful sense of balance.  As a result, the environment around the child becomes secure. According to a blog post in globalpost, “Swimming provides your child with a positive, soothing experience that may help his overall sense of wellness, while allowing your family to connect over a fun activity.”

4.) Swimming is a Great Way to Stay Fit

When swimming, all of the major muscle groups are being worked.  We do not know of any other type of exercise that works so much of the body at once. Also, the water has much more resistance so strength is built at a much more rapid pace than say, walking.  Furthermore, swimming is a great way to build cardio endurance.  Trust us, your child will not even know they are building strength or gaining cardio endurance.  To them, swimming is a way to splash around and have fun!  Check out exercise physiologist Robert A. Robergs remarks on the benefits of swimming.

5.) Swimming Can Improve Brain Development in Children with Autism

According to an article by the Super Swimmers Foundation entitled, “Enhancing Mental Development through Swimming”, researchers have found that neurons in the brain that are injured can be stimulated through physical activity causing them to regenerate.  Moreover, when a child swims he/she is working large muscles which make chemicals that are sent to the brain.  These chemicals in the brain produce other chemicals which enhance cognitive function.  Furthermore, combined movements performed in swimming help in improving speech, and work multiple areas of the brain.  The Super Swimmers Foundation also says that swimming reduces stress.  It is this reduction in stress that increases chemicals in the brain which boost the child’s mood.  As a result, muscles are able to contract and relax, and this increases the flow of blood to the brain.

Now, go out and have a blast!  One more thing…don’t forget your sunscreen!

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