Hydrotherapy: How Swimming can help kids with Autism
Are you planning to enrol your kids into swimming lessons? Have you considered hydrotherapy for child with Autism? Today, we sat down with Lisa, our CEO and founder, to talk about her experience as a Special Needs Swimming Instructor.
Priya: So let's get to it! Can you tell us a little bit about your experience as a special needs swimming instructor?
Lisa: I taught swimming lessons for 8 years to kids with special needs of all ages and abilities. It was a truly rewarding job!
Priya: Great! What would you say is a good age to start swimming as a means of therapy?
Lisa: As early as possible! I taught baby and mom lessons in warm water! If your local pool has a baby pool (between hot-tub and swimming pool temperature), I recommend getting kids in the pool as early as 6 months. Babies that age are used to being in the womb - a warm and comfortable place. Scoop them in the water and they actually hold their breath and kick! - a natural instinct. It is always a good idea to take your kids to the pool before sticking them in lessons with an instructor, so they comfortable in the pool.
Priya: That's pretty cool! How does swimming actually help children with Autism?
Lisa: Water is extremely calming and healing! When one's in water, it completely changes their gravity. As opposed to air, they get more pressure around their body in water, especially when moving arms, legs, and body. Swimming is an amazing exercise for the body (works the most muscles)! It is also meditative and is calming to the mind. Many children with autism have challenges with their proprioceptive and vestibular senses and knowing where their body is in space. Water helps with feeling where your body is in space when you feel the resistance of the water rush past you, and water encapsulates your body to give a slightly gentle pressure that is very calming.
Priya: Thats amazing! What are the long term benefits of swimming for children with Autism?
Lisa: Long term benefits to swimming can increase endurance, strengthen the heart, help stay fit and lean, and overall can increase energy and minimize potential disease.
Priya: How can parents involve themselves in this process? Can they help outside of the classes?
Lisa: Consider taking a class with your child at the toddler stage. When your child is ready for lessons on their own, make sure to tell the instructor how to best communicate with your child and that your child is different. It is always good to keep the instructor informed ahead of their first class. You can watch from a distance and intervene if necessary. Make sure your kiddo is comfortable in water before sending them off to swimming lessons. I've had a lot of kiddos scared of water because of the unfamiliarity of it. Practice blowing bubbles in the bath tub!
Have a question? Leave it in the comments below and we will make sure to answer it in 24 hours! Want to tell us your experience with different forms of therapy? Reach out to us to talk about a feature on our blog!
Author: Priya Gupta