Autism Swim is the only certifying body in the world specific to autism and aquatics. We certify swim centers, swim instructors, therapists and other aquatic professionals as ‘Autism Swim Approved’.
Autism Swim Approved Providers are committed to creating safer and more enjoyable aquatic experiences for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other abilities. In order to achieve this, providers receive training, resources and support to develop programs which target three key areas:
1. Water Therapy
Ensuring our participants are comfortable and happy to be in and around the water. This sets them up with the best chance of learning!
2. Water Safety
Water safety is imperative for every learner, however, even more so for those who have a decreased ability to perceive risk and danger.
3. Learn to Swim
Adapting and modifying our teaching techniques to ensure all learning styles and abilities are supported. Providers work towards individual goals rather than trying to fit learners into pre-determined ‘levels’.
We are thrilled to introduce our very first Autism Swim Provider of the month,
Suha Saeed from Best Swim Sports in Bahrain.
Suha is a Premium Member which means she accesses yearly training, as well as ongoing clinical support from the team at Autism Swim. We asked her a little about her experience as an Autism Swim Provider. Here’s what she said:
1. How long have you been working as an aquatic professional? In particular, how long have you been working with individuals with Autism and other abilities?
I have been working with Best Swim Sports as a part-time instructor since late 2019. Tareq Juma, the founder, has supported competitive swimmers since 2007. In 2011, the Academy became a swimming school, providing services such as:
- Elite and Junior swimming programs
- Babies and Pre-school
- Learn to Swim for children and Adults
- Aqua Fitness.
The latest program which has been added to the Academy this year is Aqua Lessons for people with autism and other abilities.
2. What did you find most challenging prior to being Autism Swim Approved?
To teach a certain group of people of any age, with any ability is a big responsibility. The most important thing to take into consideration is how to keep them safe. Although I am qualified as an Aquatic Teacher for persons with other abilities, I was finding communicating with those who have Autism in the water difficult. Of course I did not want to avoid teaching individuals with autism, I wanted to learn and know how to communicate with them in a better way and to be able to undertake my lessons more professionally.
3. How did you hear about AS and what was your motivation to enroll?
The first time I heard about AS was via my STA UK account. The words “Autism Swim” attracted me, but then when I found that this course is Australian, I thought I would just leave this for the future.. Nonetheless, I was so lucky to attend to one of Jessica’s Webinars in June, and it was actually the first Webinar I attended during Covid-19. I liked her presentation. I noticed that Autism Swim provide training via an online course and not a course that I needed to fly to attend. Jessica was so helpful and offered the attendees her assistance by answering all their questions by email. She gave me the best recommendation ever, she recommend that I enroll in Autism Swim’s First Year training! So I did, and I believe that was one of greatest decisions I have made in my life.
"she recommend that I enroll in Autism Swim’s First Year training! So I did, and I believe that was one of greatest decisions I have made in my life."
4. Was there a standout moment for you in the 1st year content?
I could say everything was new and the all the information I learnt has really supported me to build up my confidence and develop new ideas. I had the basic understanding of what Autism is, how it can impact individuals differently, and how to communicate with individuals with Autism on a basic level. The first-year content helped to reinforce that every individual with Autism is unique and that there is no one strategy that works for all individuals. The only standard rule that should be followed is to be patient, learn to know what the individual likes, and what communication style works best for them.
In addition, the available resources were so useful. Jess, Autism Swim’s clinical lead, has been supporting me with valuable information, recommendations, and advice. She had a great suggestion of using a social story, which was very helpful, the parents of the participants were very impressed.
5. Since becoming an Autism Swim Approved Provider can you tell us about a time you have put into practice some of your new skills and had a positive outcome?
Completing the First Year training, meeting with Jessica and my previous experience helped me to come up with a new idea. I introduced a dry “introductory” class with participants who have other abilities prior to the aquatic class. These dry sessions have helped me a lot. The purpose of having a dry class first is to introduce myself to the swimmers. I believe this has helped as while the water may be a new experience, my voice and my face will not be new to the participant. They will partially accept me since they have met me before. Unlike taking them to the swimming pool from the first day, in a totally new environment with a new person. The swimmers have responded well when they hear my voice prior to going to the loud and unfamiliar pool environment.
7. What made you decide to enroll your fellow colleagues to become AS Approved?
I want more individuals with autism and other abilities to have the opportunity to get in the water and learn how to be safer in water. The more instructors that are AS Approved, the more individuals with Autism and other abilities that could join our program. My employer has always supported me to improve in my skills, so I wanted his academy to be one of the first schools in Bahrain providing such education. The three instructors who joined after me are instructors who are always keen to improve their education in Aquatic teaching scopes and willing to participate, educate and instruct individuals with autism and other abilities. My employer, Tareq, was motivated to encourage some of his best staff to take the course after he himself completed his AS training.
8. Tell us about the media interest you have received, and what this looks like for the aquatic centre you work at?
I was interviewed by Dr Lamya Al Kooheji, PhD in Linguistics, who used to be a professor in a University, about achieving my course with AS and being the first Bahraini instructor to become Autism Swim Approved. She posted the interview to one of the local newspapers, and on Instagram. As a result of that, the academy and I got approximately 25 calls asking about the course!
9. We are so honoured and excited to have you as part of the AS family! What about being a part of the AS family are you finding the most beneficial?
Yes, yes, yes and yessssssssssssssssssssssssssssss – I’m finding so much benefit. I have learnt a lot, and willing to learn more. Since I have started learning I have realised just how much there is to learn. My current goal is improving my communication with individuals with autism and other abilities that are in their teenage years. I would really love to improve myself in this scope further. I am so happy to be a member of AS family.