Time to Make a Splash: How to Prepare a Child with Special Needs for the Pool

Time to Make a Splash- How to Prepare a Child with Special Needs for the PoolThis is a guest post by Patricia Sarmiento, fitness and wellness writer at PublicHealthCorps.com where she puts the “public back into public heath”. Patricia brings to light the importance of pool safety, especially for children with special needs. There are many aspects that can attribute to a child’s safety (or lack thereof): medical issues, difficulty with gross motor coordination, as well a as lack of adequate equipment to support his/her needs. In this post, Patricia covers each of these elements and curates resources so that you can enjoy a poolside summer with your child.

A startling statistic from the National  Autism  Association states that drowning is a leading cause of death for children with Autism. This statistic drove home the importance of teaching our children with special needs how to swim.

The trick is knowing what information to share with your child and how to share it. A great resource for parents to use as a guide is this extensive piece on recreational swim safety—it provides a good indicator of the information you should impart.

Next is the fun part: teaching him/her to swim. Parents can either do it themselves or look for a local class that caters to children with special needs. If you choose to teach your child to swim on your own, here are some great resources:

An important thing to keep in mind is that your child may require special equipment to help keep him/her safe in the water:

  • First, learn the accessibility laws your local pools should be following. Here’s a great source on swimming pool lifts, other accessibility methods, and the ADA Pool Lift Law for US-based swimmers.
  • Then, consider what the specific needs are for your child with respect to the water. Does he/ she need head support? Help staying afloat? Ellen Seidman of LoveThatMax.com put together an excellent listing of different types of equipment. The information explains which diagnoses the devices are best suited for and where you can find them.
  • And because choosing a life jacket can be a chore, here is some helpful information from Parents.com that clarifies the different types and classifications of life jackets.

Every child should experience the joy of swimming. When children with special needs know about water safety and how to protect themselves in the water, they’re able to take advantage of the many other benefits of swimming.

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bio_headshot_patriciaPatricia Sarmiento channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. A long-time fitness buff, she makes living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.



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