A huge concern with autism and any disability in general is the safety issues surrounding swimming. Swimming is something everyone (well mostly everyone) enjoys and is an activity everyone should have the opportunity to engage in! Sometimes though with individuals with autism, certain safety rules should be reinforced before getting into the pool for the first time. Drowning is a cause of death for special needs individuals which can’t be overlooked but can be avoided through proper education.
While working at a summer camp for special needs children, in particular I worked as a counselor for the 5-8 year olds with intellectual disabilities, part of the camp was a weekly trip to a local swimming pool. The organization partners with a foundation called the Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund which is a non-profit organization which is focused on helping children with special needs through water safety programs.
Here are the 5 rules from their website they seek to educate people in with regards to swimming safety –
1. Always Swim With A Buddy
This rule reminds participants that it’s dangerous to swim alone and to always have a “swim buddy”.
2. No Running, No Pushing
Reminds participants of how to behave in and around water. The surface around water is slick and it can be dangerous if you slip and fall in.
3. Stop, Look, Listen When the Lifeguard Blows the Whistle
This rule explains the significance of the lifeguard and how you must obey this person while in and around the water.
4. Blow Bubbles Under Water
Many people with disabilities that are unfamiliar with water will panic if they fall in. This rule teaches participants to stay calm and to blow bubbles when under water, as opposed to sucking water in and choking which may occur.
5. Put Feet Down/Stand Up When In Trouble
When a person with a disability falls into a body of water they may lose all sense of direction. This rule teaches these individuals that by putting your feet down it will get your head above water.