Autism Swim Approved provider - Brith McLaren with boy doing learning to swim
Autism Swim Approved provider - Brith McLaren with boy doing learning to swim
December 2023

Provider of the Month

Brith McLaren

Gold Coast, QLD

Tell us a bit about you and your background...

I have done childcare for 16 years and wanted to try something different, so I became a swim teacher part time as well as working in childcare.

I love it so much that I decided to teach swimming full time.

In this video: Picking toys up with tongs is great for fine motor skills and breath control because children often forget their fear when they are busy.

 

Why did you choose to become Autism Swim Approved and what are the greatest benefits you've found since doing so?

When Autism swim came to the Gold Coast, I could not think of a better thing to jump onto, I did a lot of support work at Childcare for children with neurodiversity, so to continue to help these children, just in another setting was the right path for me.

After becoming an Autism Swim Instructor I found that I was the only one on the Gold Coast for about a year and there was a real need for this, so I became busy and loved it, every child I have had, have taught me so many things and have helped me improve as a teacher and I am still learning, I can not think of anything better that this.

In this video: This boy loves the mat, but he has never tried to stand on it before, so we practised standing and then falling in, as Humpty dumpty, you never fall in prepared, though this was his second time where I made sure he knew. After that I don’t warn and it is a big hit with the children (even my blind boy)

What sort of feedback have you received since putting the skills you learned into practice?

I am very play based, which means I find toys and task that I can convert to the pool such as putting pegs on a hoop with string and tongs to pick up sinkers, which makes the lessons fun and the children don’t even realise they learn new skills when they are playing, and many parents have come to me and said they never thought their child would ever be able to put their head in the water little own swim out and back without holding hands.

In this video: My blind boy learning to use tongs, this was his first time, he was doing really well.

 

What advice can you give to other aquatic providers looking to become more inclusive?

I do one on one to start with, I don’t put them in classes until they are ready which often mean they are able to swim basic strokes. Sometimes they can go in a 2 to 1 if they seem to do better watching other children swim.

My advice is don’t rush, children will learn in their pace, not ours, it might go fast that they build confidence or it can take a long time, but it will happen, just have patience and make the lessons fun. If I have not laughed with my student in a lesson, I feel I Have to do better, always have a laugh make them giggle and make it fun.

Being confident in the water comes first, then water safety and then in between comes swimming.

Do you have a favourite inclusion quote or analogy?

Every little win is a big win,

It won’t happen fast, but it will happen.

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