am a big supporter of swimming lessons for children. In Australia water sports and swimming is a big part of our summers. In the case of children on the spectrum I think its even more important as they often have an innate interest and curiosity around water. Statistics say children on the spectrum are 160 times more likely to drown than the general population.
“For several years, I had been deliberating about swim lessons for my son, because I was terrified after seeing news report upon news report of children with autism wandering away from their home and drowning in lakes, pools, and ponds,” – Dana Walker – Autism Speaks
My children go to an amazing primary school where they have the opportunity to have swimming as part of the curriculum. They are incredibly lucky as this is not a standard in Australian schools.
Outside of this both Leo (9) and Esme (6) have weekly swimming lessons on Saturday mornings, during the school term at Super Swim School at Input Fitness in Frankston.
Leo has had strong grounding at a number of swim schools in the Frankston area, across 8 years so is an extremely competent swimmer. Esme needs a significant amount more support and has found a fantastic teacher in Eden. He has been her teacher for two years now and is amazingly supportive and patient with her. He is happy to push her when needed and to give her her own space when its required. Last year his class had two young autistic ladybugs with high support needs. It looked extremely demanding even from watching from the poolside but he was great and handled it all in his stride. She has progressed in leaps and bounds and is now quite a competent swimmer, even if she doesn’t always follow instructions during the lessons!
Having a swim school and swim teacher that is inclusive and understanding is paramount. I know awareness can be a controversial word in this community but awareness by swim school providers, teachers and other parents is what is required. Awareness is the first step to understanding. Understanding to acceptance, acceptance to inclusion. I have heard of other schools that force children to take individual private lessons at additional costs or will not take them at all. Both Leo and Esme are in classes with neurotypical children and the teacher is aware of any additional considerations.
There are so many things we are trying to teach our neurodiverse children I am so glad they are making such progress in a skill that could one day save their lives.