S.N.A.P.—Swim Lessons for Children with Special Needs
Parents are all remarkable superheroes, but it is said that special needs parents are the equivalent of Batman, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk combined with a side of Mary Poppins. Regardless of which superhero caregivers relate to, it’s important for children of all abilities to develop water safety skills as early as possible.
Swimming is full of advantages, but for children with special needs, it offers three primary benefits:
Swimming is one of the best full-body workouts for children of all ages and skill levels, especially those with special needs. Learning to swim improves balance, coordination and the development of motor skills, while water resistance builds muscle tone and strength. Additionally, floating and propelling through the water isolates muscle groups and develops coordination. Swimming also improves range of motion for those with movement restrictions. Because buoyancy in the water reduces body weight by 80%, swimming offers an ideal environment for movement with less restriction.
The look on a child’s face when they accomplish a goal or achieve a new skill is priceless, and swimming provides plenty of opportunities to build self-confidence. As children learn new skills, their confidence grows, and they are often inspired to explore new skills they wouldn’t have tried before.
Additionally, swim lessons are designed with progression in mind, and one of the benefits of the S.N.A.P. is to get children with special needs comfortable in a cohesive social environment. Progression continues to develop as they interact with their swim instructor and others in the school.
According to the National Autism Association, drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism. This reality is due to three common autistic characteristics: wandering, fascination with the water, and a lack of understanding of danger. As a whole, children with special needs are at an increased risk of drowning and establishing water safety skills is one of the best ways to protect them. As with all children, this could mean the difference between life and death if they find themselves accidentally in the water.
Swim lessons also help special needs children develop spatial awareness as they use reference points and explore water depth. This increased spatial awareness, along with the physical balance that naturally develops during swimming, can keep special needs children from falling into the water, offering additional safety in and around the water.
Aqua-Tots’ Special Needs Aquatic Program (S.N.A.P.) is designed to create lessons tailored to each child’s special needs and abilities, and we’re committed to helping children of all abilities develop a life-long love of the water. To learn more about this program and what your local school offers, please contact your neighborhood Aqua-Tots.