Swimming is a life skill. In our family learning to swim is not optional. My kids go to school, religious/Hebrew school, and swim lessons. Pretty much any activity other than those is optional. At some point a child will be around water and it is important for them to be safe. I breathed a sigh of relief when my oldest son could successfully fall in the water, roll to his back and float.
My oldest son has autism and for him swimming has been an especially useful activity. He had low core strength and swimming has helped to improve that. Ross learning to swim has also greatly increased his self confidence. He now has his sport. Swimming is the activity that he takes pride in and overall enjoys.
Find The Right Program and Instructor for YOUR Child
Now, getting to the point where Ross enjoyed swimming was a process. We tried swim lessons at three different places over the course of about two and a half years. Eventually we moved and decided to try our local JCC’s All in Swim program because that was where Ross was going to go to summer camp a few weeks later. It is a program that specializes in providing children with autism swimming lessons.
When we started Ross was scared to go into the pool area. It was loud and smelled funny plus it had a swimming pool! The program uses social stories but mostly a lot of patience to get him in the pool area and eventually in the pool. Having a program and instructors that understood Ross’ unique challenges was so important to getting Ross comfortable in the water.
We have also switched instructors several times. We switched because of scheduling and teachers moving on to other jobs but each time it turned out to be a good thing. Having a new instructor seemed to refocus Ross. Having a new teacher with new expectations was good for him.
After Ross’ second teacher we also realized that he did better with a male teacher. A great swim program director can find a great teacher for your specific child so be sure to change instructors as neccesary and give any feedback (like needing a male instructor) to the director so your child can have the best instructor.
At first practicing meant just getting Ross in the water at a free swim or even a splash pad. His sensory sensitivities to water took time to overcome but with practice in a baby pool and with sprinklers they improved. Eventually we got to actually practice swimming. Because Ross often struggles to stay focused in swim lessons and hates repetition being able to practice outside of the lesson time was important.
Don’t Give Up
About six years after Ross took his first swim lesson and two and a half years after starting at the JCC’s All In Swim program this video was filmed. I managed not to cry in the interview but easily could have. Ross learning to swim was at times a struggle and we are beyond proud of him for powering through and learning to not only swim but love a sport.
I hope that your child will have as much success swimming as mine have! I would love to have you on our community page for lots of fun and support and be sure to join our newsletter for the latest news and tips.