These suggestions are aimed at increasing your swimmer’s contact (or exposure) to the pool environment, and help them feel more comfortable when they attend their swimming lessons. This will also help reinforce recently taught swim skills. These suggestions are ideal for students in the early stages of swim education.
• As a parent or support person, you may not have easy access to a swimming pool. Therefore, a simple strategy to increase pool exposure and desensitise your swimmer to the scent of chemicals, is to fill a 1-2 litre empty carton with pool water each week, and bring it home. This water can then be emptied at home into a container, and be used for water play activities.
• The frequency of lessons and the exposure to programmatic elements is a vital key to the success of skill development. We recommend 2 x 30mins swimming lessons a week for individuals with ASD, undertaken by an instructor who is Autism Swim Approved. For someone living with Autism, their reduced ability to adapt to changing environments may result in them feeling uncomfortable with and non-compliant to new tasks. It is therefore suggested that swim-related activities be completed in the home environment 3-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes in conjunction with the 2 x 30mins weekly swimming lessons.
• Activities to practice at home with pool water include: putting hands in the water, playing with toys in the water, blowing bubbles and submerging face in water and gently pouring water over your swimmer’s head. Activities should be those that the swimmer is comfortable with, and those that have been worked on in their swimming classes.
• Improvisation with household items may also be quite effective to swimming success. The student could wear their bathers and goggles whilst having a bath or shower.
• Practice in other bodies of water, such as beaches, rivers and lakes. This is likely to assist your swimmer to generalise his/her skill-sets into different environments, and with someone else other than his/her swimming teacher in the pool.
When teaching a new skill, always start with a win i.e. start with something your swimmer is already likely to be able to succeed at, and then build up from there.