When you're looking for the best recreational activities for your child on the autism spectrum, don't underestimate the benefits of swimming. Not only is it a great physical activity that will keep your child moving, it's also easier on less-developed muscles than some organized sports. Read on for several more reasons to consider swimming for kids with autism.
It Provides a Sensory Outlet
Kids who have autism often have sensory processing problems as well. As a result, they can be easily distracted. Often, this sensitivity can lead to problems dealing with all of the stimuli of a public pool, such as the noise, the people, and the heavy chlorine. Instead, one-on-one lessons in a private pool may provide a better environment. Just make sure that the pool is a moderate temperature and is quiet and calm.
This type of environment may actually help your child to find his or her own natural ability to process sensory input. By finding a way to cope with the sensory struggles through swimming and natural relaxation in the water, your child may be able to enjoy some time free of the sensory struggles. The water provides a sense of balanced pressure on your child's body, which acts almost like a weighted blanket.
It Helps to Develop Coordination and Muscle Tone
Kids on the spectrum often have trouble with poor coordination and low muscle tone. If you want to help your child develop more physical strength, coordination, and motor skills, swimming can do just that. Work with a private teacher to help your child learn how to swim in a controlled environment. It also makes it easier to have the teacher focus on the specific motions and muscles that are troublesome.
Since the water creates a low-impact environment, you'll have less concern about muscle injuries. It's a safe environment where your child can develop some understanding of his or her physical limitations and body boundaries without risking injury or struggling with sensory processing.
It Gives You Peace of Mind
One of the most common causes of death for kids on the spectrum is drowning, especially because kids with autism often wander. This can be dangerous, because kids on the spectrum often lack the spatial awareness to keep them from stepping off the edge of a pool deck or into a pond. By teaching your child to swim, you'll reduce the risk of him or her becoming a victim of a water injury or drowning.
Contact a representative from a facility like the Jersey Wahoos Swim Club to see whether they'd be amenable to allowing your child to have private swim lessons there.