Ask the Clinician? How Can I Get My Child with Special Needs Comfortable with the Pool in My Backyard?
1. Start with Swim Lessons
Knowing your child can be comfortable navigating through water on their own results in peace of mind for everyone. Before their first day, consider taking them for a tour of the facility where they’ll be taking lessons, which might help them become accustomed to the sights and sounds they’ll encounter. Tip: Many YMCA locations offer swim classes designed specifically for children with special needs.
2. Set Rules
Many children with special needs can be taught simple rules using visual cues and repetition. Often, rules will dictate behavior—and in this case, you can use that to your advantage. Establish water safety rules (for example: Do not go into the water unless a parent is with you) and practice them with your child to make sure they fully understand them.
3. Keep it Fun
Incorporate some fun and games when they’re in the water with you. Beach ball races and balloon toss are just a few options to get you started. Another essential: Remember to celebrate each milestone— no matter how big or small—your child makes in the water.
4. Incorporate Visual Learning
Visual cues, such as STOP signs, go a long way for many children with special needs when practicing the rules. It is a good idea to display similar signs on all doors that lead to the outdoors. Another idea: Watch a video on water safety with your child, and then discuss the lessons learned afterward.