For a child on the autism spectrum, the benefits of learning how to swim are priceless. Its inherently therapeutic nature provides a comforting space for the child and aids in reducing stress from the outside world. Swimming lessons serve as a stimulant towards the child’s engagement in social interactions, which in turn helps their speaking skills, self-esteem, and other cognitive faculties. Additionally, knowing how to swim could save a child’s life.
Because April is Autism Awareness Month, here’s what any parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) should know about swimming lessons and how they can help their child develop.
Water is a stress reliever
Water has a calming quality that soothes our bodies and reduces stress, and the therapeutic benefits of swimming and aquatic therapy are well documented. For example, the hydrostatic pressure of water creates a cradling and “weightless” environment, which helps relax your muscles.
For a child with ASD, these qualities of water are even more valuable because they help decrease hyperactivity and aggression. Instead, their focus can be turned to the concentration needed to keep themselves afloat. The gentle rhythms of floating in the water and the support of the water surrounding their bodies means the children don’t have to exert too much force on their bodies.
Additionally, the feeling of weightlessness that comes from swimming and treading water helps the child control their body movements so they do not harm themselves. Swimming also helps those with a strong sensitivity to touch get introduced to new sensory experiences in a safe, calming environment.
Drowning is the leading cause of death among children with ASD, according to the National Autism Association—it’s estimated that 91% of deaths of children on the spectrum ages 18-years-old and younger are the result of drowning. Most of the time, these cases involve wandering away from home.
The rate of children with ASD wandering from their home or away from a safe environment is four times higher than among the general population of children. When children on the autistic spectrum wander, they often find themselves attracted to water. In nearly all cases dying after wandering, the cause of death is from accidental drowning or suffocation.
Many children on the autism spectrum are unable to relay their address or phone number to other people, especially if they do not know them. Therefore, teaching them how to swim and be safe around bodies of water is a matter of life and death for a child on the autism spectrum.
Swimming helps autistic children learn and communicate better
In swimming lessons, children often perform exercises that use facial muscles, which serves as reinforcement for speech therapy. For example, when a student blows bubbles in the water, or motor boat noises, they are practicing the phonetics of p, b, and m sounds.
Additionally, learning how to hold and control their breath aids in articulation and enunciation. That way, they develop better communication with their parents and instructors. Parents of children with ASD who have taken them to swimming lessons have noted that their cognitive processes have improved, meaning the child is able to intake information and acquire knowledge better. This is due to the individualized nature of a swim lesson, which does not give them too much information to focus on all at once.
Social skills and self-esteem
Children on the autism spectrum benefit greatly from group lessons in which team-building and interpersonal relationships are essential. Apart from the pride associated with a child’s personal achievements in learning basic swimming skills, they can also learn how to support other team members and successfully interact with them. As part of a team, they can learn how to cooperate and have friendly competition, all while experiencing the positive feedback from their individual efforts.
Children will also develop listening skills that allow them to understand and follow instruction. Putting children with ASD in these kinds of social situations allows them build confidence in a safe space that is not too demanding.
Swimming lessons provide so many opportunities to improve and supplement an autistic child’s learning and development. In addition to improved social skills, it also gives them a chance to succeed at what may seem at first like an impossible task. This sense of accomplishment can help propel them forward to achieve even more than they ever thought possible.
When you think of enrolling your child in swimming lessons, what comes to mind? Do you think about long summer days watching your child splash happily in the pool or cheering them on as they swim in their first race? Maybe you think about spending summers at the lake or beach and watching your child swim with confidence and ease.
What you might not think about, however, is just how important it is to keep your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter. Though the short, cold days may seem like an unlikely time of year for swimming lessons, there are numerous advantages to wintertime swimming lessons.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that appears at the same time each year. For children, winter can be a particularly difficult time as daylight hours become shorter, normal summer-fun routines get cut back, and cold weather prevents them from enjoying time outdoors. All of these can lead children to feel symptoms of depression or unexplained fatigue. However, by keeping your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter months, they can engage in regular exercise that’s been proven to help children get better sleep, keep energy levels and appetites up, and provide other relief to these symptoms.
In the winter, your child doesn’t have as many opportunities to play with friends or meet new acquaintances at places like parks, playgrounds, or picnics. However, with weekly swim lessons, your child can have a much-needed break from the confinement of the indoors while also having the chance to socialize with friends both new and old. Not only does this help thwart the loneliness that can often accompany long winter months, but it keeps you child on a reliable schedule that they can look forward to throughout the week.
Moderate exercise is proven to help boost the immune system and keep your child healthy during a time when sickness tends to run rampant. And while it’s best not to put additional stress on your child’s immune system if they are fighting an illness, keeping them enrolled in swimming lessons when they are healthy will help them build a strong immune system. Additionally, swimming helps your child stay healthy in the following ways:
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to keep your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter is to ensure their safety and security around water. Unfortunately, the statistics on child drownings are very grim: an average of 350 children under the age of five drown in pools each year – a majority of which occur in June, July, and August. And while having a few months of swimming lessons here and there will no doubt help to give your child safe exposure to water, keeping them enrolled throughout the winter will give them the skills and techniques they need to stay safe in the water.
The basics of swim safety teach your child to turn over and float independently in case they accidentally find themselves in deep water. As the foundation of toddler and kids swimming lessons, instructors will help your child build upon these skills so they feel comfortable and confident while swimming in any body of water – from the bathtub to the ocean.
After a winter of swimming lessons, you can have peace of mind come summer when pools open, vacations call, and your child longs to get swimming!
As you can see, there are several key benefits of keeping your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter. Sign your child up for swimming lessons at SwimJim, today!
Have you ever enjoyed the relaxation of a long bath or soak in a hot tub, only to find your skin wrinkled and pruned once you get out? Maybe you’ve experienced the utter exhaustion after a day of playing at the beach or splashing around at a pool party. While these side effects are virtually harmless and natural for all humans, you might be surprised to learn the science behind this pruney problem.
It is important to remember that your skin is actually waterproof! Think about it: your skin doesn’t soak up the water like a sponge when you get out of the shower or tub – instead you use a towel to whisk away the moisture on your skin. To talk more scientifically, the sebaceous glands in your skin produce an oil called sebum (SEE-bum) that acts effectively as water-proofing while also lubricating and protecting your skin. We tend to think of ourselves as walled off under our skin but it is actually this sebum that keeps us from bloating up with water every time we get into the pool.
When determining what factors contribute to dish-pan-hands, we must turn to the concept of osmosis. After soaking in the tub or pool for an extended amount of time, your skin loses the protectiveness of the sebum layer, becoming more porous and prone to water exposure. After some time submerged in a body of water, the dead cells on your skin’s outer layer start absorbing water, which causes them to swell. This swelling causes the outer layer of skin to stretch, but because it’s still attached to the tight layers of skin beneath the surface, the expanded outer layer is forced to wrinkle.
Though osmosis undoubtedly plays a role in post-water wrinkles, scientists believe that this spontaneous reflex is mostly the result of human evolution. As explained by the Scientific American, several laboratory tests indicate that wrinkly fingers help improve our grip on wet or submerged objects. This natural occurrence channels water away from fingers and toes during wet conditions, which helped our ancestors maintain tighter grips while gathering food from wet vegetation or streams.
Mark Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist, found that not only are the wrinkles strategically placed, but that this pattern helped drain the skin’s water away from the fingertips to help provide a drainage network that ultimately improved grip. He conducted a study in which participants picked up wet or dry objects, like different sized marbles with normal hands or with fingers that had been soaked in water for 30 minutes. The results were fascinating: the subjects with wet, wrinkled fingers were able to pick up the marbles much faster than those with dry hands.
Oddly enough, wrinkles typically don’t appear until you’ve been submerged in water for at least five minutes. This means that intermittent contact with water isn’t enough to prompt this unique response. Furthermore, it takes significantly less time to wrinkle in freshwater than it does in seawater.
In fact, it’s very rare that you will ever leave seawater pruny and water-logged. Why? Well, it goes back to osmosis. When you are in a pool, the salt concentrations of H2O in your skin are higher and so the water from outside goes in. Well, when in the ocean, the salt content in the seawater is much higher and therefore draws the water in your skin, after the sebum has rubbed off, out into the ocean. Can you imagine? Your body trying to equalize the salt content of the ocean? That’s a lot of water to give off.
This highlights the important fact that should be remembered in the Summer when you are making a trip to the beach. If osmosis is working against you in salt water (taking water from your skin cells), then you need to counteract this by drinking extra water or a drink like Gatorade that is full of electrolytes. Doctors suggest about 8 cups of water a day, more if you are going to be active. We suggest 15 cups of water to drink during a day you’re spending at the beach, which is roughly equivalent to about 10 cans of soda. This might seem a lot but just remember that with the combination of that sun beating down on you, and the salt water sapping H2O from you, it’s crucial that you stay hydrated while having fun in the surf and sun!
The fall and winter are approaching fast. This means that less people are swimming, which means it’s the best time to get your children into swimming lessons. Until the fall/winter blues fade away into summer, we’ve created a fun & informative video to teach about how to keep your child safe near water.
These lessons are not just for children, but for parents that are watching their children swim.
Feel free to share it with your friends!
With Michael Phelps announcing his retirement from the sport of swimming, he’s had a luscious career. Now the question is, how well have you followed his career? Do you think you know everything about this Olympic athlete? Test your knowledge below!
You know what they say, there’s always room for improvement. Do you know how to become a better swimmer? Whether you are 4 years old or 40, following these tips will help you become a better swimmer.
With swimmers ruling the pool at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, many viewers are starting to wonder: “what makes these athletes such outstanding superstars?” You might be surprised to learn that the habits of many of the world’s top swimmers transcend country or ethnicity. Instead, these habits simply reflect the distinct, eccentric lifestyle that only those who swim competitively can truly understand.
However, by highlighting 10 of these common trends amongst world-renowned swimmers, you’ll be able to gain a behind the scenes look into what quirky habits make these super-athletes so unique.
One noticeable habit of Olympic swimmers is the amount of daily food consumption. While the average adult should consume around 2,000 calories daily, professional athletes – and swimmers in particular – need significantly more than that. Decorated Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte both claim to eat around 10,000 calories each day during training season and rave about the much talked-about “carbo-loading” before big competitions.
Olympic swimmers have more practices than there are days in the week, typically logging at least 10 workouts throughout seven days. Many of these practices are held in the wee hours of the morning. Take 19-year-old superstar Katie Ledecky, for example; on a daily basis she wakes up at 4 a.m. in order to be in the water and ready for practice which runs from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. Like Ledecky, most Olympic swimmers wake up long before the sun, which makes it nearly impossible to sleep in – even on the rare days-off.
Unlike many of their Olympic constituents, swimmers typically don’t have the time – or energy – to dry their hair. With just mere hours between practices, most swimmers don’t find purpose in drying their hair regardless of freezing temperatures or daily demands. Furthermore, after hours of training, weightlifting, and dryland exercises, the idea of lifting and holding a hair dryer for several minutes seems virtually impossible.
In the pool, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps are each other’s greatest competitors. Outside of the pool, however, the two thrive as friends of more than 12 years. Like Lochte and Phelps, competitive swimmer stick together. Just as dolphins and whales travel in pods, swimmers frequently hang in groups making mealtime, workout time, and even downtime a team event.
During training season, Olympic swimmers can often be seen creating as much drag as possible. To them, the equation is simple: stroke length, combined with stroke rate, results in faster speed. In order to capitalize on every single stroke, swimmers train with things like water parachutes and bungee cords to add resistance and help improve the overall effectiveness of their stroke.
For Olympic swimmers, being clean-shaven is a luxury that only exists once or twice a year. As previously mentioned, swimmers strive to create drag in every aspect of their training, and that includes even the most microscopic hairs that cover the body. Men grow beards that could make lumberjacks cry and girls frequently sport “leg-sweaters.” Olympic swimmers typically shed their “training layer” the night before Olympic Trials to reduce drag and capitalize on speed.
Watch Olympic swimmers file out before a race and you might assume you’re about to watch a skiing competition rather than a swimming event. With multiple winter coats, hoods, hats, and even gloves, these swimmers look like they’re preparing for a pending blizzard. However, these warm layers are donned to keep swimmers warm and muscles loose. What television doesn’t broadcast is that these Olympic athletes have already swam thousands of meters to warm up and get their muscles ready to race. By bundling up, swimmers can avoid cold, stiff muscles which ultimately result in slow swimming.
Often times before racing, many swimmers squat by the edge of the pool and violently splash themselves with that cold, chlorine-y goodness. This habit might seem odd considering their excessive efforts to keep themselves warm prior to race time and the reasoning behind the tradition varies. Some professionals claim it’s a measure they take to keep their suit in place, while others say it’s simply part of their pre-race routine. Others splash themselves in an effort to “wake up” their muscles and jolt themselves into race-mode.
Non-swimmers are quick to point out the unique fragrance that seems to encompass competitive swimmers: chlorine. But after spending nearly 40 hours a week in the pool, soaking in the chlorine chemicals, this scent is seemingly impossible for Olympic swimmers to thwart. Furthermore, many professional swimmers don’t admit to showering as frequently as they should during training season simply because they find no point in wasting time (that could be spent eating or sleeping) washing off the same pool water that they’ll be back in in less than 12 hours.
After spending four hours a day in a restricting, skin-tight swimsuit, the last thing Olympic swimmers want to do is don tight-fitting clothing. Perhaps this is why many swimmers can be seen wearing sweatpants, sweatshirts, and other comfortable clothing. In fact, many professional swimmers admit that “dressing up” means wearing leggings. Furthermore, these fit, muscular swimmers also have an unnatural ability to know what clothing will fit their broad shoulders and strong arms, and what items won’t.
Learn how to swim like an Olympic athlete and adopt these quirky habits for yourself by clicking HERE.