2024-04-18 18.43.45
May 2024

Provider of the Month

Mark

in at the deep end, United Kingdom

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

'in at the deep end' is a small swim school in the North East of the UK that specialises in low cost but highly specialised lessons. While we are not a SEND swim school a huge number of our swimmers have additional needs, are neuro divergent or on the pathway to diagnosis. We are about to celebrate our 16th year of trading on the 21st of April!

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

We have been AS-approved now for over 5 years. We initially joined to increase the knowledge and understanding for our neurodivergent swimmers and to make sure we were always supporting them in the best way.

Although my personal background is within SEND schools the knowledge gained has been invaluable. By being AS approved we were much more accepting, accommodating and supportive of everybody – not just those who are within our Autism Swim sessions. We are able to support the parents and carers or family members as well. Being approved and seeing what our staff do on a day to day basis makes me so so proud.

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

Some of our parents have said we are a ‘last chance saloon’ for their children who have been banned and stopped from attending lessons elsewhere.

It is so sad that other places can say this to swimmers at such a young age, however, I am beyond proud that we have never ever turned away a swimmer. We have also managed to achieve what others have said is impossible including being able to get swimmers swimming independent and transitioned to group classes, or, independent 1:1 without support of parents or carers.

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

Do this!

This is your pathway and opens the door to inclusivity. It takes a large cultural shift to make it happen BUT this is the door to that path. It gives you the foundations and cornerstones with which to make your organisation inclusive from how you deliver and provide lessons to how it's supported and communicated to everybody. It also gives you the tools and resources to make it happen for everybody – not just your own staff but the staff of the facility you work in but also other parents.

Do you have a favourite inclusion quote or analogy?

“Everybody has the right to be who they are not what somebody wants them to be”.

I’m not sure if that’s a quote from somebody or not, but, that’s almost my mantra. Everybody can be who they want to be and we should be adapting how we deal with and treat others rather than making somebody conform to us. For example, if somebody is nonverbal, why do we feel we need to make them talk?

Lets adapt how we interact and give them ways to communicate without the need to verbalise. If somebody wants to stim – let them.

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