Are you or someone you know living with Autism (ASD)?
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a developmental disability that is caused by differences in the brain. Several characteristics are seen in people diagnosed with ASD, most notably, difficulty in social interaction and communication along with repetitive or restricted interests or behaviours. The condition can also make what seems to be ordinary or mundane tasks challenging as people with ASD learn, move, or pay attention differently.
Can swimming be good therapy for people living with Autism (ASD)?
Whilst learning to swim can be beneficial to everyone, it is markedly so for people living with ASD, especially kids. According to the Royal Life Saving site, children with ASD are three times more likely to drown than those who don’t have ASD. As kids diagnosed with ASD tend to wander and gravitate towards water without caution, swimming becomes an even more crucial skill to learn.
What are the benefits of swimming for people living with Autism (ASD)?
The very challenges presented by ASD like difficulty in speaking, thought processing, and social interaction, as well as lack of confidence, can be addressed by swimming (3) – such as:
- Boosting self-esteem,
- Building better social skills,
- And ameliorating cognitive processing
However, regular swim lessons may not be as beneficial to people with ASD as they learn and behave differently in some group settings. Clearly, a one-class-fits-all kind of instruction will not suffice.
A Swimming Lessons Guide for people living with Autism (ASD)
For people living with ASD, a customised and personalised approach to learning may be the safest and most beneficial route to take. While there are other approaches that may be considered, this one apparently can address the challenges presented by ASD regarding learning a new skill. This approach takes several things into account. First is the understanding that everybody is different. This relates to how each individual interacts and communicates with others, how he/she behaves in the water as well as the different aspects of training.
Second, it is suggested that the teaching style should match the personality of the person living with ASD. For example, a playful child with ASD may greatly benefit from teaching that’s geared towards making learning how to swim more like a game. On the other hand, a shy child may be more attuned to a quieter teaching method.
Third, the teacher or instructor ideally must be able to build trust and rapport with the person living with ASD as well as the person’s caregiver or parent. This also means that the teacher must also be able to replace fear of the water with trust in the student’s mind. Water can be a safe space for fun, play, and interaction given the correct and appropriate instruction.
NDIS Support for Autism swimming lessons
People living with ASD may have difficulties assessing risks and danger. On the other hand, swimming lessons are considered to be necessary for kids. For these reasons, the NDIS may occasionally fund ASD swimming lessons. According to Autismswim, the NDIS may consider funding the gap between having group lessons and 1:1 training if it can be demonstrated that a person’s disability necessitates the provision of individualized lessons. The circumstances for each request may differ from case to case and considerations for funding may include the participant’s goals, the person’s disability related to functional capacity, and if the swimming lessons represent a different and more effective way to meet the participant’s goals.
How to choose the best swimming class for people living with Autism (ASD)?
A personalised swimming class seems to be the better approach in helping a person living with ASD learn and master swimming. An approach that takes the individual’s unique traits – how he/she learns, how he/she behaves in the water – appears to be better than taking a regular swimming class. Is he/she wary of the water? Does he/she tolerate being splashed with water? Is he/she easily disrupted by other people in the pool? How do we work around these obstacles?
The methodology adopted should be flexible in taking into account the special needs of the learner with ASD, involving a lot of adaptations as the instructor learns more about the student.
ASD is not an obstacle to learning how to swim
Swimming is without a doubt a beneficial skill to learn for everybody, regardless of age, fitness level, or health condition. But for people, especially kids, with ASD, it is deemed an even more important skill to acquire primarily in consideration of water safety but also to help address the challenges presented by the disorder.
As a physical activity, swimming helps incorporate exercise into one’s life. As a social activity, it can assist a person with ASD to interact and communicate better with others. The water can also be a venue for helping address anxiety issues common among people with ASD. This is where water therapy can help.
Accredited Swimming Instructors
Being diagnosed with ASD shouldn’t be an obstacle to learning how to swim. Rather, it should encourage the individual or his/her parent or caregiver to coax him/her into swimming. Given the right teacher and appropriate teaching method, the person with ASD may benefit greatly from enjoying time in the water instead of shying away from it.
NDIS Swimming Lessons Hurstville, NSW
Healthstin’s Allied Health Clinic in Hurstville has accredited Learn to Swim instructors and well-trained Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists to evaluate individuals with Autism spectrum disorder, lead hydrotherapy and aquatic classes, and provide swimming lessons as part of a Participant’s treatment program. The pool at the Hurstville Aquatic Centre provides a great venue for Participants to take advantage of training in the water. The water’s buoyancy may help ease strains on the joints and pressure on the Participant’s body. Aquatic training also offers other benefits including increased range of motion, enhanced balance and coordination, better circulation, better endurance, and flexibility.
Healthstin has hydrotherapy pools in its clinics to enable anyone with a disability, including those diagnosed with ASD, to take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of warm water exercise. Buoyancy in the water can greatly help in relieving pain, increasing the range of movement, and boosting flexibility so taking swimming lessons in Hurstville or at any of its pool locations can be very beneficial to any participant. More importantly, Healthstin has a team of Accredited Learn to Swim Instructors to ensure that training is done safely and correctly. To know more about Healthstin’s swimming program or hydrotherapy classes, just call 1300 090 931 or email email@example.com