Swimming has a myriad of benefits for all children, but learning to swim is particularly beneficial for children with special needs. Generally speaking, there are three major goals for a swim program designed for special needs children:
- Boosting physical activity levels
- Developing self-confidence
- Teaching a life saving skill
Physical Benefits of Learning to Swim
For children of any ability level, the pool can be a fun and relaxing environment to exercise their bodies. With each kick or stroke, water resistance helps to build muscle tone and strength. Even more important for children with disabilities, the process of learning to swim helps with balance, coordination, and the development of motor skills. As children learn to float and then move through the water, they are isolating muscle groups and learning how to coordinate different motions in order to achieve a physical goal.
Additionally, for special needs children with movement restrictions, the pool can help improve range of motion. Buoyancy reduces the child’s body weight by 80%, providing an environment for restriction-free (or at least restriction-less) movement.
Emotional Benefits of Learning to Swim
There is nothing more rewarding than the look on a child’s face when he or she is thinking, “I did it!” Two of the primary goals of any childhood swim program are to develop self-confidence and build self-esteem. Many children experience an exponential sense of achievement when learning to swim because, as they learn new skills, they continue to explore their boundaries and discover new abilities.
Additionally, swim lessons designed for special needs children work through a progression that is ultimately aimed at getting the child to function in a group of other high-functioning special needs children. With each stage of the progression, children are exposed to new social interactions, and they benefit from a cohesive team environment.
Safety Benefits of Learning to Swim
According to the National Autism Association, drowning is among the leading causes of death for children with autism. This is because of three common autistic characteristics: wandering, fascination with the water, and a lack of understanding of danger. Across the board, children with special needs have a higher risk of drowning. Teaching children to swim can mean the difference between life and death if they find themselves accidentally in the water. It is the best way to protect your child.
Additionally, while learning to swim, children also develop better spatial awareness as they use reference points and explore water depth. Increased spatial awareness, along with the physical balance that naturally develops, can help keep a special needs child from falling into the water in the first place.
Premier Aquatics Services Swim Lessons
At Premier Aquatics Services, all of our instructors are dedicated to the wellbeing of each student. We use effective techniques to teach children of all ability levels, so each child can enjoy all of the physical, emotional, and safety benefits. To learn more about the impact of swim lessons on childhood mental development, read our post: Can Swim Lessons Make Your Child Smarter.
Premier Aquatics Services is currently enrolling winter classes and private lessons for all age groups. Click here to learn more about the Premier Aquatic’s year-round swim lesson programs.
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