autism and swimming questions and answers re:breaststroke

Hi there,

I would like to ask your advice about swimming tips for my 7 year old son diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. Max has been learning to swim for almost a year but struggles with breast stroke. He is receiving sensational integration therapy since January as he is over and under sensitive.

In the swimming pool he does not seem to feel his legs so the combination of moving arms and legs at the same time does not work for max. We have been told to try a lead belt by our therapist but the swimming instructor feels it will not work as max sinks a lot with due to his rapid arm movement.

Do you have advice for us on this matter?

Kind regards

Jazz Sangha

Hello Jazz,

Thank you for your question, i have come across this before and it is more common than you think. Where someone with autism cannot seem to associate with certain parts with their body which affects the co-ordination of their body.

Where a child is oversensitive is important to stimulate the child through play....playing games in the water is important. Cushioning the child between two adults to give him security and then moving at various speeds will allow him/her to experience movement.

A child diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with a hypersensitive response to movement may refuse to participate in physical activities wishing only to watch from the sidelines. Hypersensitivity to movement and fear of movement are both indicators of a vestibular disorder.

But getting back to your question I agree with the swimming instructor it isn’t a good idea to wear a lead belt for swimming the breaststroke. It’s hard enough as it is without having your legs weighed down Your child is good and well advanced already if he is learning the breaststroke well done :)... as far

As the problem goes I feel the only thing that works for me and I have taught a lot of children with autism is reputation over and over again. It will seem very boring doing the same thing over and over again but it is the only thing that works. It is hard enough anyway to do breaststroke legs anyway adults find it really difficult and children in general find it difficult the legs are the hardest to learn it takes such long time to learn.

Try your child doing breaststroke legs on his own on his back so he can see what he is supposed to be doing. Because the type of autism your child has he will have problems associating arms and legs at the same time and swimming is all about coordination. The problem your child has is the association with relating the movement with the part of the body. By being on the back your child will associate the movement with the part of the body and the repetition will eventually sink in but it takes time and practice as well as a lot of patience :).....

I wish you all the success with Max and if you have any other questions or problems you need advice on get in touch again and ill be more than happy to help you....

Thanks again Dale :)......

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