Updated: Oct 9
Summer is an exciting time! A time where children are taking vacations with their families, attending camps, and enrolling in swim lessons. A time when children are going to pools, beaches, and splash pads with families and friends. A time where it becomes abundantly clear that water safety is a necessary skill that children need to learn.
As a mom of 3 young children, I watched them gravitate toward water when they were itty bitty and demonstrate unsafe behaviors in and around water. It was because of this that I sought out swim lessons, a skill that they will need for the rest of their lives.
As an occupational therapist, I have heard from parents regarding their experiences with their own children and water safety. These parents want their children to participate in swim lessons in order to learn these lifesaving skills, but the children are not yet able to participate in a “traditional” swim lesson environment. We are seeing that the child may struggle with:
Entering the swim environment in general
Safely entering the water
Taking risks when in the water
Waiting their turn within the group
Listening and following directions from the swim instructor
Difficulty with motor planning movements necessary for learning to swim
Being fearful of the water
For these parents, the goals are similar. They want their children to be able to take swim lessons, be safe in the water, and to learn how to swim. However, the foundational skills necessary for swim lessons have not yet been learned by the child and therefore have not yet been successful.
These concerns had me doing research* and the data is incredibly alarming!
Drowning is the #1 cause of death in children ages 1-4 years old.
Autistic children are 160 times more likely to drown
Drowning is the #1 cause of death in children who elope (91%)
1 out of 3 parents have reported a “close call” with water and their child.
After learning these very scary statistics, I knew that I needed to do something for these children and families that seek out occupational therapy and aquatic therapy services. Children NEED to learn water safety, they NEED to learn to swim. I am not a swim lesson instructor, but I am an occupational therapist. And as an occupational therapist, I can help these children to learn the foundational skills that are necessary for them to be more successful in swim lessons.
*This data is taken from the cdc.gov, Interactive Autism Network Research Report: Elopement and Wandering (2011), the National Autism Association, Lethal Outcomes in ASD Wandering (2012), the American Journal of Public Health (2017), and https://www.levislegacy.com.
HLC Therapy Group, LLC is a pediatric therapy provider offering speech, occupational, and physical therapy services in McHenry County and surrounding areas located in Lake in the Hills, IL.