Children with a disability or special needs
If you are the parent or carer of a child with disabilities or special needs, did you know that swimming has lots of benefits? One of the great things about swimming is that it is fully inclusive as an activity for everyone to take part in. So there’s no reason why anyone should miss out on all the fun and skills that can be gained by getting wet!
Swimming is a great activity for improving health and fitness and is often prescribed for those with a physical disability as a form of therapy because the water is weight bearing.
Swimming is also a great leveller and brings a feeling of equality. Once the swimmer is in the water often any physical disabilities are irrelevant.
Joining in with lessons or getting involved in a club is a good way for making those all important social connections for your child. Paralympic swimmer Matt Whorwood explains:
“It’s a great social activity - there's a really good sense of camaraderie and that’s really important. For some disabled people or children, if they are finding it difficult to make friends, or if they feel out of place, it would be great for that.”
The sensory element of the water can stimulate interaction in those with emotional, behavioural and communication disorders and neurological conditions such as autism. Ian Freeman is an LTAD (long term athlete development) expert at the ASA and is also the parent of an autistic seven-year old who swims regularly.
“My son finds social situations challenging and has communication difficulties but after a swimming lesson he is almost euphoric and chatters away telling me about his lesson and all the fun he has had. It helps with processing multiple things to do and when he gets things right it's wonderful for his self-esteem.”
Children with disabilities or special needs can sometimes be over-confident around water and swimming lessons provide them with vital skills to help with survival, so getting them enrolled on a series of lessons would be the first step. Get more advice on learning to swim.