Swimming Pools, Part 2

In part 1 of our discussions about swimming pools, we looked at one example of water safety rules a family implements every time their youngster with autism goes swimming. Safety is, of course, the first consideration when it comes to our friends with autism and water. In part 2 of this discussion, we will take a brief look at other issues related to swimming and water activities.

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1. PROBLEMS WITH A PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL. For a variety of reasons, even the most avid swimmer with autism may not be able to swim in a public pool. Among other things, a person with autism may not be able to tolerate crowds or may not follow the rules and comply with the lifeguard. Several of my friends with autism are overly obsessed with rules, so they become very agitated when another person at the pool doesn’t follow the rules immediately and to the “letter of the law.” Some individuals with autism are oblivious to other people or to danger, so they may swim under the diving board or may jump in the water right on top of another swimmer. These issues, along with others, make swimming in a public pool very challenging.

2. ALTERNATIVES TO A PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL. Since some youngsters with autism simply cannot tolerate swimming in a public pool, or because their public pool behavior or interaction with people in public places is inappropriate or unsafe, let us look at some other fun water activities.

+ Water sprinkler. The traditional water hose has expanded to some very sophisticated water sprinklers that many of my friends of all ages with autism find intriguing. One young adult loves to sit in a lawn chair under a water sprinkler that shoots randomly in all directions. Another loves the “on and off” rhythm of a traditional lawn sprinkler that sways back and forth.

+ Backyard pool. It may be that a backyard pool is the best solution if a public pool is not an option. One of my friends will not wear a swim suit, but insists on wearing sweats for swimming. That wouldn’t work in a public pool with deep water, but is fine for a backyard pool that is only waist deep. And sunburn isn’t a problem ☺

+ Year-round swimming. One of my buddies with autism who is typically very agitated with life in general, is just enthralled with swimming, finding is very relaxing. His parents have installed an above ground heated pool in their garage so he can swim all year long! Another parent fills up the bathtub in the winter and encourages her water-loving daughter to put on her swimsuit so she can play in the “winter swimming pool.”

TIP FOR THE DAY: The idea to think out of the box. With careful planning we can help our friends with autism enjoy swimming and other water activities while minimizing challenging behaviors and other difficult issues. Hope you will click on our website http://FAQautism.com to find hundreds more helpful tips and resources.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me a confidential email at talk@FAQautism.com with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com

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