I'm happy to welcome Vee Cecil to my blog today. Autism is a subject that is close to my heart for many reasons. Our son has autism and he loves everything there is to do with water. For many years when he was younger, we had to worry about him spontaneously jumping into pools, ponds, etc. Water truly can pose a high risk for children with autism.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 0.5 percent of Australians have Autism Spectrum Disorder. In a nation where swimming is a popular activity, it’s also important to note that based on a study that examined media reports of deaths, drowning was named one of the top causes of death for autistic children.
What accounts for this increased danger around water for kids with autism? Here are a few factors:
Elopement. As the National Autism Association reports, elopement or wandering is a problem for 48 percent of children with ASD. The organization also notes that 32 percent of parents of children with autism who’ve wandered said their child had a “close call” with drowning.
Drawn to water. The problems associated with elopement are compounded by the fact that, as WarnOnline.org explains, children with autism aren’t as aware of the dangers around them as other children might be. Many kids with ASD are also fascinated by water. They’re drawn to it, but without a proper education in water safety, they may not recognize that water is a threat.
Inability to swim. Of course, one of the best ways parents can help protect their autistic children from drowning is by teaching them to swim. This video from All Kids Can Swim guides viewers through a presentation on how to teach autistic children to swim. For parents who don’t feel comfortable teaching their children themselves, this comprehensive guide to aquatic therapy for children with autism provides advice on how to find a swim program in your area that is tailored for autistic children. It also provides information on ways to get help paying for these lessons.
Lack of safety equipment. In its article on water safety, the Autism Consortium notes that wearing safety gear, such as a life jacket, may be a good idea for autistic children. Doing so does add an extra layer of protection. That said, knowing how to swim and/or wearing a life vest do not make your child drown proof. You should be sure to closely supervise them when they’re around or near water.
When they have the right knowledge about water safety and are able to swim, being in the water can greatly benefit autistic children. I highly recommend that parents of autistic children take steps to teach their children to swim. It truly can save a life.
Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor who lives in Kentucky with her family of four. Vee is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently-launched blog.