My child has just been diagnosed and I don't know where to start
Learning that your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or another diagnosis can be confronting. You are not alone. The Centre for Disease Control (2018) estimates that about 1 in 6 (17%) children aged 3–17 years are diagnosed with a developmental disability. This includes autism, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder, blindness, and cerebral palsy, among others.
Recieving a diagnosis can bring upon a wide range of emotions that are unique for each individual and family circumstances. For some it’s a great sense of relief to finally understand what is going on for their child, for others it’s a sense of shock and disbelief, and for others it may bring feelings of anxiousness and uncertainty of what the future holds. There is no right or wrong way to feel, and everyone processes this information differently.
Parents have said that getting past the first few days and doing some research helped them to understand the diagnosis, and to feel more positive about the future. It’s important to know where to get quality, evidence-based information.
It’s important to know where to get quality, evidence-based information. We live in a world where there is so much information and so many opinions being thrown at us, and this can exacerbate any emotions being experienced. Always look at the credentials of the people whose information you are referencing.
What is early intervention?
Early intervention refers to the provision of therapy and services as early in a child’s life as possible, to support the development of skills required to take part in everyday activities and to be included in family and community life.
Early intervention services are typically provided in the period between birth and school entry. This is a time of remarkable brain development, particularly relating to learning and skill attainment. There are many ways that swimming lessons and aquatic programs can contribute to a child’s early intervention journey. These are described below.
Supports provided through early intervention can change a child’s developmental path and have significant life-long impacts, including reducing the amount of supports needed later in life. The best interventions are those that target all areas of your child’s development, social and communication skills, and behaviour. They should be adapted to your child’s strengths and weaknesses and fit within your family’s priorities and home situation.
Learning about other parent’s stories and experiences can provide comfort, and offer a glimpse into what the future with a child with ASD or other abilities can be like. Contact your local providers for support and to connect with other parents in your community.
What do I need to know about Autism Swim for my child?
Autism Swim is an international, social enterprise of experts specialising in wandering and drowning prevention for those with ASD or other abilities. We exist to address some troubling statistics and to promote more inclusive communities. The fact that you’re here means you are likely aware of the statistics:
- Children with ASD and other abilities are 160 times more likely to drown than the general paediatric population.
- About half (48%) of Individuals with ASD will attempt to wander from the safety of a responsible adult or safe place, with potential to result in harm.
- 58% of parents of children with ASD report wandering/elopement as the most stressful of ASD behaviours.
- Only 50% of parents of children with ASD have received advice about wandering prevention from a professional.
We’re here to change this
There are many benefits of aquatic programs as a part of early intervention:
- Regular attendance in swimming lessons has been found to reduce the risk of children aged 1-4 drowning by 40-88%.
- Support children to achieve developmental milestones and to develop self-regulation skills.
- Develops skills important for transitioning into school and other organised learning environments (e.g. social skills, language and communication, motor skills and executive functioning skills).
- Many children with ASD and other abilities experience more success and are more motivated to attain new movement skills in an aquatic environment. This may be related to the buoyancy of the water and the decreased effects of gravity, which are suggested to allow the child to practice important play skills with less difficulty than land based.
How Autism Swim can help!
Whilst there is perhaps nothing scarier than thinking about the safety of your little one, help IS available.
Autism Swim is the ONLY organisation in the world dedicated exclusively to wandering and drowning prevention for those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other abilities. You have access to clinical training, resources and support at your fingertips, covering a number of things relating to:
Wandering and Drowning Prevention:
Specialist Clinical Support: We have a team of Occupational Therapists and behaviour specialists available to provide tailored therapy supports for you and your family in the context of your own home.
A Database of Autism Swim Approved Providers: find aquatic professionals in your local area and be confident that they have the expertise and the resources to provide safe and enjoyable aquatic environments for your child as they learn to swim and be safer around bodies of water.