Four Keys to Water Safety for Children with Autism | Organization for Autism Research

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The weather is warming up and pools are beginning to open. This summer, make sure to keep your child safe around water. Guest Blogger Vee Cecil shares her four key water safety tips for parents of children with autism.

water safety

Via Flickr – by Michael Coghlan

Many military families have to move frequently. As parents of children with autism know, these moves can be extremely disruptive to their child’s ingrained routine. Adjusting to their new environment takes time and patience. As you and your child do get used to a new home, it’s important that water awareness become an area of focus.

With autistic children’s propensity to roam and as many of them are fascinated with water, new locations with unknown water sources can be very dangerous and even life threatening. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of death for children with autism. This ultimate guide to aquatic therapy for children with autism provides great information on the physical and safety benefits of water awareness for kids with ASD. For more, here are a few ways you can keep your children safe.

Emphasize water safety. Teach your autistic child essential water safety rules. AutismDigest.com makes a great point. Many children with ASD are rules-driven. So, it recommends using that to your advantage. Set specific rules around how your child is to handle being around water and then practice those rules in real world situations.

Sign up for swim lessons. Of course, one of the best ways you can help ensure your child is safe around the water is for them to learn how to swim. The National Autism Association’s Big Red Safety Toolkit for caregivers of people with autism provides an excellent step-by-step process and accompanying resources for how to find swim lessons for people with special needs in your area.

Make it fun. The best way for your child to become a strong swimmer is for them to spend a lot of time strengthening the skill in the pool. However, they may get bored with practicing what they’ve learned in their swim lessons. If that happens, seek other ways to make their time in the water fun. Kidspot offers a database of pool games and swimming activities organized by age. Search through the options to find a few that you know your child will enjoy.

Ask your neighbors to help out. Naturally, you’ll do everything in your power to keep your child safe. That means making sure the pool fence is always locked and making sure the pool is clear of toys when it isn’t in use. But as Safety.com advises, be sure to ask the same of your neighbors. Especially if your child has a tendency to wander, let your neighbor know and ask that they abide by certain safety rules in an effort to help keep your child safe.

As the parent of a child with autism, it’s important to be extra vigilant about water safety. Though being in the water can be wonderful for autistic children, they’ll need to be well-educated in how to keep themselves safe and well-practiced in swimming.

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Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor who lives in Kentucky with her family. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently-launched blog.

Note: For more information on safety please visit thinkautismsafety.org. This issue and others like it are ones that OAR addresses in its guidebook, Life Journey Through Autism: A Guide to Safetyavailable for download now. To request a hard copy, please fill out this order form


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